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Health Department: Maryland Cancer Fund can help pay for treatment

Imagine that you had no insurance and you suddenly found yourself with a diagnosis of cancer. What would you do?

According to Barbara M., of Hampstead, her first thought was, "I'm going to die." She knew that she didn't have money for cancer treatment and couldn't afford insurance, so her only choice would be to do nothing.

Then someone pointed her to the Carroll County Health Department, where she was able to apply for the Maryland Cancer Fund.

"It was such a relief knowing that there was a program that could help me," she said.

Barbara ended up paying for her surgery herself, but the Maryland Cancer Fund has paid all of her chemotherapy and radiation costs.

The Maryland Cancer Fund is a program administered by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It offers cancer treatment grants to pay for a person's cancer diagnosis and treatment services for one year.

To apply, you must be a Maryland resident and be income eligible. Applications are made through local health departments, such as that of Carroll County.

The health department currently has a breast and cervical cancer screening program and a colorectal screening program. Maryland Cancer Fund is used for individuals with cancers or suspected cancers other than breast, cervical or colon.

Since the program began, it has provided screening for 650 Marylanders and cancer treatment for 150. Six of those treatments have gone to Carroll County residents.

Sadly, the Maryland Cancer Fund frequently runs out of available funds three-quarters of the way through the year. Its sole source of revenue is donations. Donations are either made directly by sending a check to the Department of the Comptroller or by checking line 37 on your Maryland income tax return.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Maryland. About 30,000 Marylanders are diagnosed with cancer every year, and about 10,000 die from cancer each year. Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.

The fund provides help for those who need help with diagnostic testing and paying hospital costs, doctor bills and treatment expenses.

Donations to the fund can literally make the difference between life and death for someone with no insurance or high coinsurance costs.

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