(INCREDIBLE) UPDATE FROM ANDREW:
"Because of the social media firestorm in which family, friends, colleagues, and others from all over advocated for me to receive the coverage and treatment I need, I have now started my personalized treatment and continue to be cared for by the renowned medical staff at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The response that my family and I received was awe-inspiring, heart-warming, and truly unbelievable. Thank you to everyone who showed their love and support. We are so grateful for it."
For most of us, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. But it isn’t just a Hallmark holiday. Tomorrow is a really big deal for my friend Andrew, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia and whose universe has been altered in ways most of us can only imagine.
Andrew is one of those people that instantly make you feel accepted. He’s a younger brother, a son, and one of three roommates that take hilarious holiday card photos every year. As my boyfriend’s cousin and our resident Nashvillian, he introduced us to Hattie B’s hot chicken this past December, so you know he’s even smarter than his current graduate studies at Vanderbilt University imply.
He started chemotherapy almost immediately and needs a very specific medicine in order to get better. This particular medicine is in a clinical trial at Vanderbilt, which you’d think would be a happy coincidence. Somehow, because the world is crazy, this drug is just out of reach for Andrew and his family; even though the pharmaceutical company has offered to pay for all associated costs, and even though his health insurance covers routine medical care, like his stay at the hospital, they refuse to issue a green light for Andrew. Even if his family had a million dollars, they wouldn’t even be allowed to pay for it. The circumstances are not good.
Tomorrow at noon marks the minute that Andrew phases out of qualifying for this medicine. That means the chances of him getting better will be tragically less. Vanderbilt insurance is denying coverage to a 24-year-old graduate student/employee with Acute Myeloid Leukemia; that kid is my friend Andrew, and I’m hoping he can make a lot more friends in the next 12 hours. Please share his letter, shared below with permission, and help us make some magic happen.
You can email Nick Zeppos, the Chancellor at Vanderbilt University, at Chancellor@Vanderbilt.edu and tell him you’re reaching out on behalf of your friend Andrew. Mark it urgent. It doesn’t have to be long. It just has to convey our message:
My friend Andrew Kantor needs his Vanderbilt insurance to advocate for him by noon on February 14th, 2017. Will you help us?
My name is Andrew Kantor. I am a 3rd-year graduate student in the chemistry department here at Vanderbilt University. For 24 years, I have lived a healthy life with a fantastic support system, including family, friends, and work colleagues. Last Friday, on February 3, 2017, things changed drastically for me when I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow starts producing mutant white blood cells that rapidly divide out of control; furthermore, these white blood cells are immature and completely incapable of fighting infection. To make matters worse, the renowned medical staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center diagnosed me with a particular mutant cell clone that is especially nasty and incurable without a personalized medical plan for AML. The standard drugs used for AML will not be sufficient in my case. Fortunately, there is a drug in a Vanderbilt clinical trial that is available (called midostaurin) that has been shown to help patients with my particular mutation to achieve remission. However, moving forward, the Vanderbilt insurance company for graduate students has decided that they will not pay for ANY care (hospital stay and standard care) associated with this clinical trial.
To be clear, the clinical trial is funded by a pharmaceutical company and does not need to be covered by the insurance company. The insurance company solely has to pay for the ROUTINE STANDARD care that goes along with the clinical trial. I am a Vanderbilt student/employee being cared for in a Vanderbilt hospital with Vanderbilt insurance that needs to enter a clinical trial that is administered by a Vanderbilt principal investigator. To be clear, the medical care that I have received throughout the past week has been exceptional, but I MUST continue to receive this medical care in order to survive. From my perspective, this is heart-breaking because I need to devote every ounce of energy that I have to getting better. If I do not get insurance coverage by 12 PM tomorrow (February 14, 2017), then I will not be able to receive the drug because I will no longer qualify for the clinical trial. Medical insurance companies make money by denying coverage, and I am just the latest victim in this money-making scheme. I have to hope that someone at the insurance company comes to their senses in the next 12 hours; my life depends on it.