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Letter: Insurance issue hurts cancer patients

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Dear Editor:

There is an enormous financial burden placed on cancer patients in Pennsylvania due to an antiquated insurance provision — IV medications are considered a medical benefit, and therefore the cost is limited to co-pays, which are usually only $20 to $30 a session.

On the other hand, oral chemotherapy pills are considered a pharmacy benefit, requiring the patient to pay a percentage of the cost of the pills.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. At one time, the only cure was a complete bone marrow transplant. Thanks to research, oral chemotherapy drugs have been approved for treatment. Today, half of all Food and Drug Administration-approved oncological treatments are oral medications.

My doctor initially prescribed Gleevec, which has an 89 percent, five-year survival rate. In my case, even with 80 percent of the costs of my medicine covered by my insurance, I had a monthly expense of $1,100.

On the bright side, I was able to take the pills at home, go to my job as a teacher’s assistant and still take my boys to football practice. I later learned that Gleevec was no longer working and the cancer in my blood was increasing. I switched to a new chemotherapy medicine called Sprycel, which costs $1,590 per month for me.

Taking this pill is keeping me alive — I just wish I did not have to pay so dearly for it.

As cancer patients, we should be able to make our health care decisions based on the most effective treatment for our diagnosis and lifestyle, not an insurance technicality that can put the best option out of reach.

Pennsylvania lags behind 34 other states that have passed legislation to fix this disparity. I encourage Pennsylvania’s elected leaders to act now to prevent one more story like mine.

Kathy Hawkins

Carlisle

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Obituaries for 09/08/1997

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  • Robert Bosler, 37, of 224 W. Main St., Walnut Bottom, died Sunday, Sept. 7, 1997, in Polyclinic Medical Center in Harrisburg.

    Ewing Brothers Funeral Home, 630 S. Hanover St., Carlisle, will announce funeral arrangements when they are completed.



  • Rachel I. "Sammy" Brandt, 82, of 934 Baltimore Pike, Gardners, died Sunday Sept. 7, 1997, in her home.

    Born Jan. 15, 1915, in York County, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Sarah Shaffer Bupp and the widow of Ralph "Dutch" Brandt, who died May 16, 1988.

    Mrs. Brandt was retired from the former Blough-Wagner Co. in Mt. Holly Springs and was a former employee of C.H. Masland Co., Carlisle.

    She was a member of the Old Bellaire Chapter Order of Eastern Star No. 375.

    Surviving are a son, Ralph Brandt of York; three daughters, Joan McNew of Gettysburg, Judy Brandt of Grantham and June Showers of Gardners; nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and two sisters, Pauline McCans of Hatfield and Hazel Johnson of Gardners.

    Services will be Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Gibson-Hollinger Funeral Home, 501 N. Baltimore Ave., Mt. Holly Springs. The Rev. Sandra Schultz will officiate.

    Burial will be in Cumberland Valley Memorial Gardens in West Pennsboro Township.

    Friends may call Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home. An Eastern Star memorial service will be held Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. in the funeral home.



  • Services for Glen Isaac Kunkle, 89, formerly of 5221 Cumberland Highway, Chambersburg, will be at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home, 333 Falling Spring Road, Chambersburg.

    Masonic services will be conducted by members of George Washington Lodge 143 F&AMPAM at 11:15 a.m.

    Mr. Kunkle died Friday, Sept. 5, 1997, at Manor Care Health Services, Chambersburg.

    Born May 11, 1908, in Williamson, he was a son of the late David W. and Grace Carrie Rife Kunkle. He was the widower of Dorothy Jones Kunkle, who died Aug. 29, 1996.

    Mr. Kunkle retired in 1954 from the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., where he had been employed since 1935. He formerly was a wood pattern maker apprentice from 1926 to 1930 at Chambersburg Engineering Co. and then worked for General Steel Corp. of Chester and Frog, Switch &AMP Manufacturing Co. of Carlisle.

    He was a member of Greenvillage Church of God, Chambersburg; Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia F&AMPAM, Washington, D.C.; and a life member of William R. Singleton Hope Lodge No. 7 F&AMPAM of Lebanon.

    Surviving is his sister, Elva Stambaugh of Chambersburg.

    The Rev. Ronald E. Dull will officiate at Tuesday's service. Burial will be in Norland Cemetery, Chambersburg.

    Memorial contributions may be made to ManorCare Health Services, 1070 Stouffer Ave., Chambersburg 17201, or to Greenvillage Church of God, 5164 Philadelphia Ave., Chambersburg 17201.



  • Services for Gerald B. "Base" Strayer, 80, of 115 S. Prince St., Shippensburg, will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Prince Street United Brethren Church in Shippensburg.

    He died Saturday, Sept. 6, 1997, at Chambersburg Hospital.

    Born March 4, 1917, in Southampton Township in Cumberland County, he was the son of the late David F. and Annabelle Eutzy Strayer.

    He retired in 1975 from the former Hershey Creamery, Shippensburg, where he worked for 40 years. After retirement he worked as a custodian at Kmart in Chambersburg for eight years and at the Beistle Co. in Shippensburg for four years.

    And for 25 years he served as the utility groundskeeper for Shippensburg Community Fair.

    Mr. Strayer was a member of the Prince Street United Brethren Church and Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 1299, Carlisle. He was a life member and past commander of Durff-Kuhn VFW Post 6168, Shippensburg.

    He was an Army veteran of World War II.

    Surviving are his two daughters, Dixie L. Whorley and Diana B. Strayer, both of Shippensburg; a sister, Pearl Allen, of Shippensburg; three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.

    He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy B. Beltz Strayer, who died May 16, 1993; six brothers and two sisters.

    The Rev. George D. Strayer will officiate at Wednesday's service. Burial will be in Spring Hill Cemetery, Shippensburg.

    Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Fogelsanger-Bricker Funeral Home Inc., 112 W. King St., Shippensburg.

    Memorial contributions may be made to Cumberland Valley Hose Company Ambulance Fund, P.O. Box 366, Shippensburg 17257 or to the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter Inc., 2325 Country Road, Chambersburg 17202.



  • Services for George K. Gerhardt, 82, of Carlisle, formerly of Bloserville, will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Hoffman-Roth Funeral Home, 219 N. Hanover St., Carlisle.

    He died Saturday, Sept. 6, 1997, at Sarah Todd Memorial Home in Carlisle.

    Born Feb. 6, 1915, in Carlisle, he was the son of the late Reuben W. and Anna W. Gilbert Gerhardt.

    He was a retired meat cutter from the former Carlisle Food Market, a member of God's Missionary Church, Bloserville, and an Army veteran of World War II.

    Surviving are his wife, Ruth A. Norrell Gerhardt; a son, Wayne Belmont of North Carolina; a brother, Eugene Gerhardt of Carlisle; a sister, Milly Gerhardt of Carlisle, two grandchildren, five stepgrandchildren, two great-grandchildren, five stepgreat-grandchildren and a stepgreat-great-grandchild.

    The Revs. Clarence E. Dupert and David D. Deetz Sr. will officiate at Thursday's services. Burial will be in Upper Frankford Brick Church Cemetery.

    Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the funeral home.

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