Six-time cancer survivor focuses on treatment thanks to charity care

February 02, 2017 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Heroes

As an accountant, numbers have played a key role in Nora Gorman’s life. The figures that are important to the 63-year-old Naperville resident these days have to do with the disease she’s been battling since 2010: six cancers, seven surgeries, three chemotherapy treatments and $12,075.

The $12,075 is what Gorman did not have to pay Edward Cancer Center as part of her care from July 2015 to June 2016 because the amount was covered by the charity care element of Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Financial Assistance Policy. Charity care is the cost of medical care provided free or at a discount for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.

In Gorman’s case, she’s been declared disabled because of the effects of her cancer and the treatment she’s received. As a result, she’s eligible for and covered by Medicare, which has paid 100 percent of the costs associated with her hospital stays (Part A) and 80 percent of the costs related to doctors’ visits and outpatient tests (Part B). The 20 percent not paid by Part B is where Edward-Elmhurst’s charity care made the difference for Gorman.

“I don’t have to worry about the financial part of my treatment and I can focus on getting better,” she says. "I am blessed. Without Edward’s financial help, I wouldn’t be here.”

Gorman was originally diagnosed in 2010 with cancer in her right breast. In the ensuing years, cancer was found and treated in her ovary and left breast. In 2014, it was stage IV cancer in her right neck.

"That one, I thought that was it for me," recalls Gorman. "I asked Dr. (Alexander) Hantel, 'Are you worried?’ He said, ‘Yes.’" Dr. Hantel is System Medical Director, Oncology Services, Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Gorman also recalls Dr. Hantel said, "We will do everything we can to make you live longer."

Because of the sensitive location of the tumor in her neck, surgery to remove it was not possible. Traditional radiation therapy was not an option either because of previous radiation treatments she had received close to the area.

But, Neil A. Das Gupta, MD, System Medical Director, Radiation Oncology, Edward-Elmhurst Health, was able to use the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System at Elmhurst Hospital to target and treat Gorman’s tumor.

Cyberknife is a non-surgical form of radiation which is guided by sophisticated software and advanced imaging. It is able to track the tumor and the patient’s movement while delivering high-dose beams of radiation with a submillimeter degree of accuracy, allowing physicians to zero in on the tumor without harming surrounding healthy tissue.

In December 2014, Gorman underwent three sessions of CyberKnife therapy, which eradicated the tumor.

Gorman has been in remission since June 2016, which followed treatment for her fifth and sixth cancers, which were in her left rib cage and lymph node in her right shoulder, respectively. She has blood tests and gets her cancer level checked monthly. She sees Dr. Hantel every other month and continues to get financial assistance through Edward-Elmhurst’s charity care program.

Despite all she’s been through, Gorman is upbeat and especially appreciative of the care she’s received.

“I’m still alive and I’m still fighting. The only thing I have is to be positive. I have strong faith in God and complete trust in Dr. Hantel and my medical team. If I can just inspire one patient to keep hope alive by telling my story, then I have done my part."

Read the full Edward-Elmhurst Health FY 2016 Community Benefit report.

Learn more about cancer services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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