Bob Green & Bill LieberHow can paying for someone else’s cab ride ripple into a life-changing experience? Imagine that in paying for that cab ride, you help someone in need get critical cancer care.
Bill Lieber, one of the originators of the Patient and Family Assistance Fund at the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute (NBTI), is acutely aware of the significance of such a seemingly small act. Not long after he met Bob Green, Bob had a seizure and was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
After a five-year struggle, Bob passed away, but not before he helped others in their fight against brain tumors. “That is who he was,” explains Bill. Of modest beginnings, Bob came from a “family of givers, always there to help others,” says Bill, who recounts how Bob wouldn’t miss a cancer support group because he wanted to be the shoulder, the ear for others grappling with the turmoil of the illness.
Just as Bob worked unassumingly to help his family’s business grow, he proceeded softly to bring dignity to and to help fulfill the needs of those around him in cancer treatment. “Bob helped people quietly. He was a generous soul, driven to make the lives of those around him better,” says Bill, “and that is the foundation of the NBTI Patient and Family Assistance Fund.”
The fund helps brain tumor patients and their families get the resources they would otherwise not be able to afford to make it through the emotional and financial labyrinth of such a trying time. It is designated for those patients who need financial assistance with certain medications, COBRA payments, transportation, respite care and other expenses that are often not covered by insurance or Medicare.
The high cost of treatment, even for insured patients, coupled with difficulty with employ-ability and obtaining disability insurance, leaves patients and families financially strapped and even bankrupt. In addition to diagnosis and treatment, healthcare costs include travel to/from treatment; a driver when the patient is no longer able to drive; psychological support; aides to help at home; continuous follow-up care; rehabilitation; supportive and palliative care. Debt burden continues beyond the treatment period and the consequences of the debt can linger for years, sometimes extending beyond the patient’s life.
The patient’s life is the focal point of the fund. The idea is to complete the circle of care for patients and, by doing so, ease the overwhelming burden brought on by the illness. “Now, we can go a little bit further,” says Bill, who helped to establish the fund through the estate of his late partner. “When people need additional help covering costs that their insurance company won’t cover or the hospital might not cover, they have a place to go to get that assistance.”
The fund is one of the first and few of its kind, filling a desperate gap and demonstrating how donating as little as the cost of a cab ride can go a long way in making someone’s load lighter. With such support, patients can live life with dignity and some peace of mind knowing their needs can be met without being cumbersome to family and friends.
Bob embodied the belief that the littlest opportunity can make the greatest impact, and now the NBTI Patient and Family Assistance Fund will help go above and beyond to make a difference in others’ lives.
The strength of the fund resides in the quiet dignity of the selfless act that has the power to generate a lasting and far-reaching consequence. “Bob made such an impact when he was with us,” says Bill. “This fund is where Bob’s spirit was and what he was all about. It’s all about helping people, sharing your wealth, and making life better.”