My name is Holly and I’m from Rockville Centre, New York. In 2014, during my freshman year in college, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In a matter of days, my whole life changed from focusing on my new classes and getting used to being on a college campus to dealing with intense treatment.
I was only 18. My top focus should’ve been my health and treatment, but unfortunately with the high cost of my chemotherapy, the drugs’ costs were also something I had to consider. Just six months of chemotherapy and a variety of other prescription drugs I needed totaled over $200,000. Luckily, my insurance covered a large portion of the cost for the first few months, but after I lost insurance, the second half of my chemotherapy cost me over $100,000.
I was lucky I only needed six months of treatment to go into remission- most people need longer, but I couldn’t fathom such a large number and how my family and I would pay for it. How could the life saving treatment I needed come at such an unreasonable price?
I finished treatment over six years ago, but still have felt the effects of this medical debt for years after. Because of the medical debt, it was difficult to acquire the student loans I needed to return to college.
The high prices of prescription drugs are something that unfortunately could follow me for the rest of my life because of the effects of chemo and cancer. Cancer not only left financial damage on my family, but I have to experience further costs for prescriptions for egg retrieval after the chemotherapy affected my fertility.
Even with insurance, the prescriptions needed for egg retrieval to potentially have children one day cost hundreds of dollars even with insurance and are priced at almost $4,000 without insurance. And in addition to the egg retrieval drug costs, I will have to pay for hormone therapy treatment starting in my 30’s and continuing for likely the rest of my life.
A cancer diagnosis shouldn’t come with tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt. I shouldn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars even with insurance for prescriptions so that I could potentially have kids if I decide to one day. It shouldn’t mean that for the rest of my life I’ll be paying expensive prices to pharmaceutical companies for hormone treatment therapy. That’s why I know we need reform to lower drug prices. I’ve lived with the high costs of prescription drugs for the past 7 years, and I need our leaders to act so I don’t have to live with them for the rest of my life.
My cancer diagnosis changed my life, not only medically and financially, but my diagnosis played a big part in why I went on to study microbiology in college. I want to help find innovative discoveries that will advance treatment and help improve lives. I value innovation and understand concerns about reductions in research and development for new drugs, but the Big Pharma talking point that any reduction in drug prices will lead to less innovation and will harm patients just doesn’t hold up. Patients can’t access the drugs they need already. There are so many great scientific breakthroughs that have been made that patients cannot benefit from right now because of out-of-reach drug prices. With lower drug prices, patients can get the innovation we need at prices we can afford and people like me won’t have the cost of their drugs hanging over their head for years to come.