Cancer CARE Fund Offers Patients More than Medical Care


PINEHURST – Last summer, after weeks of treatments for breast cancer, Nita McNeill, 41, realized she had more hurdles to conquer. The news of stage 2 cancer had been difficult. Treatments were rough, too.

“I was able to work the whole time during treatment then,” she says. “It kept my mind off things.”

But in December, she discovered that her job in Laurinburg must come to an end.

“I couldn’t risk getting an infection,” she says. “My doctor told me that until I healed more, I shouldn’t go to work.”

Short-term disability was only enough to cover monthly rent for her modest home in Laurinburg, where she lives by herself. She also had food, utilities and other living expenses.

In addition, like many people receiving cancer treatment, she needed ongoing medications, regular trips for treatment and supplies to help with healing. Out of work, she no longer had the funds to cover it anymore.

But thanks to the support and care provided by FirstHealth, McNeill was in good hands.

“My doctors at FirstHealth were really, really good to me the whole time,” she says.

They connected her with Patient Navigator Lynn Lanier, R.N., MSN, who “went above and beyond the call of duty for me before I stopped working, and especially afterward.”

Additionally, Lanier connected McNeill with resources available from The Foundation of FirstHealth’s Cancer CARE Fund.

“On days I had my chemotherapy, Lynn would come by to check in with me,” she says. “She [Lanier] knew I couldn’t afford everything, so she made sure I got anything I needed.”

Every week in North Carolina, more than 150 women like McNeill learn they have breast cancer. If they’re patients at FirstHealth, these women get more than excellent medical care. Thanks to the generous donors who give to the Cancer CARE Fund, they also receive assistance to help relieve some of the common stresses of a cancer diagnosis that many people don’t think about.

For McNeill, the Cancer CARE funds provided her with a voucher for a beautiful wig until her hair grew back, gas cards for travel to the many weekly appointments, and a device to help her with swelling – a condition called lymphedema, a common side-effect of some cancer treatments.

“If it weren’t for all of their help, I’m not sure what I would have done,” she adds.

McNeill has continued healing, and she looks forward to returning to work before fall.