October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While there are many great survivor stories, Molly MacDonald's journey is one of the more inspiring ones. MacDonald, a Detroit, Michigan resident, is the founder and Executive Director of The Pink Fund.
The Pink Fund is a non-profit breast cancer organization that provides 90-day non-medical cost-of-living expenses to breast cancer patients in active treatment for breast cancer, so they can focus on healing, raising their families, and returning to the workplace.
The Pink Fund was created in 2006. MacDonald joined WBGO News Director for a chat about her amazing story and how her non-profit has provided more than 4-million dollars in bill payments on behalf of breast cancer survirvors in active treatment.
MacDonald knows what it's like to battle the financial burdens of breast cancer while undergoing treatment to battle the disease. Diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in April 2005, the disease was unlikely to take her life but did take her livelihood. She was between jobs and was unable to start her new job as planned. Her family's already tight budget was immediately overburdened with the addition of monthly COBA health insurance payments coupled with the loss of her income.
"I was just spiraling down financially. There was just nothing that was going to get us out of this. I thought we were going to join the ranks of the homeless, but I met all these other working women in the treatment waiting rooms who had far more aggressive disease than I had. They were undergoing really toxic treatment that affected them physically, mentally and emotionally."
MacDonald says those patients were facing a real dilemma.
"They were wondering was their treatment protocol going to outlast their 90-day FMLA leave? Where they going to lose their home? Should they pull their kids home from college? Should they liquidate their retirement funds? The most egregious was maybe I should just stop treatment and go back to work?"
Those questions eventually prompted MacDonald to start her non-profit organization.
"I thought why isn't anybody doing something about this? If I can't get help, which is the crazy part, then maybe I'm supposed to give help. So, together with my new awesome husband who is known as "Tom Terrific", we decide to launch an organization The Pink Fund that would make up to 90 days of non-medical bills for essentials like housing, transportation, utilities and insurance paid directly to patient's creditors. That way those patients wouldn't have to be 1099 which would be another burden to them."
MacDonald says the situation for breast cancer survivors is still in crisis mode.
"What we've learned at The Pink Fund is about 41 percent of the people we surveyed in 2017 indicated that they did not adhere to their treatment protocol because of all these medical bills that they had to pay."
How did The Pink Fund get going early on?
Molly spoke at every meeting she could and admits she got some much-needed marketing help from her former employer.
"The medical writer for the Detroit Free Press where I had been employed wrote a front-page story on my efforts and that kind of launched us."
Click above to hear the entire conversation with The Pink Fund founder and Executive Director Molly MacDonald.