Jacksonville woman creates cancer fund to help oncology patients pay non-medical bills

Fund has raised more than $450,000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Cancer care can be financially challenging for patients. But a new program available through Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation might be a turning point for those struggling to pay for everyday necessities as they receive treatment.

Andrea Laliberte, a longtime philanthropist, found herself at Ascension St. Vincent’s for breast cancer treatment back in 2020.

“I didn’t have a lot of time to think about, ‘Okay, what does it mean?’ I was focused on ‘okay, what do I need to do’,” Laliberte said.

Laliberte needed weeks of chemotherapy. During those infusions she sat, watched, and listened to heartbreaking stories where people had more on their plate than just fighting cancer.

“You just see, it’s so hard,” Laliberte said. “You’re going through it both physically and mentally. But it’s also very hard financially. And not everyone has the means to keep living their life as they were.”

During her treatment, an oncology nurse told her about a former patient who bought twenty, $50 gift cards to pass out to other patients on his birthday. This simple, but highly impactful act of kindness, inspired Laliberte to pay it forward to others in need.

“And I saw a deed and the opportunity to give back that way,” Laliberte said.

She began by donating $50,000 in 2021, with $10,000 earmarked for the Foundation’s mobile mammography unit, and $40,000 dedicated to developing a new Oncology Support Services fund to help oncology patients pay non-medical bills.

Last year, she donated another $400,000, which allowed Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation to publicly launch the Oncology Support Services Program.

Ruby Soriano, who works to meet patients’ needs, understands the impact a little help can make.

“Yes, this is a good thing for our patients,” Sariano said. “So, the foundation called me and said, Hey, Ruby, there is somebody who wants to donate for your cancer patients, and they specifically want cancer patients.”

Laliberte’s goal is to make this an everlasting, self-perpetuating program. This is something everyday people, like the man and his gift cards, could give in any amount, knowing that collectively it will make a noticeable positive impact in patients’ lives.

“I feel blessed that I can do this,” Laliberte said. “And I just, I’m just thankful that I’m able to, and that if I can help anyone in any way, going through this, it’s good.”

Letters of gratitude from patients who received money prove it’s more than just good.

“I hear the stories of these patients, and I see how it impacts their lives and so just being able to be an instrument of that process to get that money from somebody who wants to help answer their needs,” Sariano said. “It’s bringing so much joy to me.”

If you want to donate to the St. Vincent’s Oncology Support Services fund, click here.

About the Author:

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.