Cancer-patient advocacy group says 'Fight cancer, not me'


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many patients fighting cancer are also battling insurance companies' policies and processes that make it difficult or even impossible to receive proton radiation therapy that their doctors prescribe, according to the advocacy group Alliance for Proton Therapy Access.

Believing patients should be able to receive quick answers and fair treatment from insurance companies when faced with a cancer diagnosis, the group has started a campaign, "Tell Insurers: Fight Cancer, Not Me," and a petition drive.

"All cancer patients deserve access to the best available cancer treatment recommended by their physicians," the group wrote on its website. "Too many patients, however, experience insurance company delays and denials when their doctors recommend proton therapy. Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that offers patients fewer side effects and improved quality of life."

Kathy Brooks has worked in oncology nursing for more than 30 years, and at Ackerman Cancer Center since 2015, so she understands exactly how difficult cancer treatment can be. When she was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2016, she knew she needed proton therapy.

“Because of my experience as an oncology nurse, I knew that treatment for head and neck cancer is very difficult," said Brooks. "Proton therapy was my best chance to survive and have quality of life, but unfortunately my insurance did not approve it. Going forward with my proton treatment, I had to fight the cancer and deal with the insurance appeals process every step of the way.”

The Alliance is asking people to sign its online petition at AllianceForProtonTherapy.org/take-action.

Ackerman Cancer Center will host an awareness day on Wednesday