Health First patient parks bike and drives with ‘guardian angel’ for treatments at Cancer Institute

cancer treatment appointments took about two and a half hours on the bike each way

Travel to and from Health First’s Cancer Institute on Melbourne’s Hickory Street has become routine for Bryan Marcrum. Without a car (or family or close friends nearby), his appointments took about two and a half hours by bike each way. (picture Health First)

Giving Tuesday funds life-saving connections, eternal gratitude.

BREVARD COUNTY, FL – If looks could kill,” Bryan Marcrum said, recalling the look Health First oncologist Lauren Kropp, MD, shot him when he told her he was doing cycled from Palm Bay to make appointments at the Health First Cancer Institute in Melbourne.

“She said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” but yeah, I finally got to the point where I need help, and she was like, “Well, we don’t have that .”

Earlier this year, Brian had sharp pains under his stomach that felt like a bladder infection. He went to the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center at Health First. Later, he was given a startling diagnosis: stage 3 colon cancer.

Travel to and from the Health First’s Cancer Institute on Hickory Street in Melbourne has become routine. Without a car (or family or close friends nearby), his appointments took about two and a half hours by bike each way. At first they were manageable, he says, but lately he’s been losing his strength and suffering from neuropathy in his extremities.

Health First radiation oncologist Lauren Kropp, MD, in front of the TrueBeam radiation therapy system. (picture Health First)

Benevolence and guardian angels

Health First is Brevard County’s not-for-profit health care system. Donations and community donations contribute to technology, programs and clinicians that raise the standard of care for all.

The Compassionate Fund is a big part of that. It provides eligible patients with the assistance they need in the form of a Guardian Angel Grant — an anonymous arrangement that can help with transportation like Bryan’s, prescriptions — even accessibility issues at the patient’s home.

Health First Case Managers, Social Workers and Benefits Advocates obtain Guardian Angel Grants for eligible patients in need. Often a journey to medical treatment or equipment will create a tangible and lasting impact for a member of our community. It might even save their lives.

“Health First is Brevard County’s not-for-profit health care system. This means that we spend a lot of time answering two questions. How can we attract more and more innovation and innovators to our doorsteps so that patients receive world-class care? It’s a.
Second, how can we better care for the patients who come through our doors, because that’s how we measure value,” said Michael Seeley, president of the Health First Foundation.

MICHAEL SEELEY, above, is the chairman of the Health First Foundation, which helps improve the health and well-being of residents in the community by raising funds to support and advance the mission of Health First and his family charitable health care providers. (picture Health First)

“You are alone” is no longer

At the Health First Cancer Institute, “I felt like I had a whole team supporting me and fighting for me. I wasn’t used to that,” Bryan said.

Thanks to the Guardian Angel fund, Bryan now uses ride-sharing service Lyft to get to and from his appointments.
Transportation is a major barrier for patients across a range of services at Health First offices, and supporters of the Compassionate Fund will help people overcome this barrier.

Because not moving shouldn’t stop you from fighting cancer.

Health First patient Bryan Marcrum is being treated at the Cancer Institute at 1130 Hickory Street in Melbourne. (picture Health First)

“I am grateful for each day the patient presents and receives their treatment and continues to make positive progress,” said
Jordan Hearn, a patient coordinator at the institute who helped match Bryan with Guardian Angels.

Bryan did not miss any treatment. He is proud of it. Now he is nearing the end of his radiotherapy program. “Fingers crossed,” he said.

“In my life, when something bad happened, it’s always, you’re all alone. Understand that. It’s a whole new experience for me. It’s good to know that there is people supporting you, caring for you even if they don’t know you, it’s a great feeling.

With your help, the Compassionate Fund will continue to advance the health and well-being of our neighbours.

Be part of the global Giving Tuesday experience, visit HF.org/GivingTuesday, email [email protected] or call 321.434.7353.

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