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Giving Back Blog

  • Writer's pictureAscension Illinois Foundation

Couple in Cancer Fight Get Year of Medication Help


Sophie Hwang, pharmacy manager, Ascension Saint Francis in Evanston.

Life together was not turning out the way the young couple once dreamed it would.

First, a lost job due to a global pandemic. Then, abnormal lab values ended up revealing stage IV cancer. Finally, a home they could not afford to keep.

The medication they would need as part of their cancer treatment was going to cost more than $1,000 per month. There was no way they could afford it.

“Everybody thinks their problem is big until they share their problem with others,” said Sophie Hwang, pharmacy manager, Ascension Saint Francis. “Then they see their problem is not that big. This young couple who is going through this — it is that big.”

For Many, High Costs Put Medication Out of Reach

For this couple — and for many others — the right medication is the difference between a hospital stay and maintaining health at home; between life and death. Too often, though, necessary medication is out of reach because it costs too much.

Hwang knew this couple could not afford the medication they desperately needed. And she knew that — because of a group of dedicated annual donors to the Ascension Illinois Foundation — she could help.

Keystone Founders’ Generosity Addresses Increasing Needs

For the past 15 years, the Keystone Founders Society at Ascension Saint Francis has donated up to $15,000 annually to the health system’s Foundation to assist patients in the Emergency Department with the medications they need but cannot afford.

By and large, funding provides one-time assistance to patients who don’t have insurance. In recent years, the number of people who receive medication assistance from the Foundation has increased significantly, Hwang said. More people have been coming to the Emergency Department for care and Hwang and her team also have increased outreach to patients in need. In the case of this young couple, funding was approved for a year’s worth of medication.

“The Keystone Founders Society is gratified to know that its small annual underwriting of Emergency Department medications can make such a large difference for this family,” said longstanding Keystone Founders Society Member Ray Parmer. “We pray for them.”

“God Bless the People Who Are Providing that Donation.”

Hwang said the couple was in tears when they picked up their first one-month supply of medication. She told them they could pick up the second month’s supply that same day. They said they didn’t know if they would survive that long.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Hwang said. “God bless the people who are providing that donation. Truly, whomever they are, say thank you so much.”

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Emily Dagostino

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Ascension Illinois Foundation

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