firelands regional medical center blog

Published on September 14, 2017

"Help is Always There" Through the Foundation for Firelands

Kevin Kilgore was the picture of health in the summer of 2016. He had changed his lifestyle completely, started going to the gym and eating healthily. He had lost 80 pounds and felt great. He never thought a discovery he would make while shaving one morning would completely change his life. 

Kevin Kilgore's cancer care team

On that June day, Kevin found a pea-sized knot on his neck and didn’t think much of it. Shortly after, he had a routine physical with his family physician. As a healthcare professional himself, Kevin casually mentioned the lump at the end of an otherwise uneventful visit.

“My physician was concerned enough to send me to an ENT,” Kilgore, a twenty-five-year nursing veteran said. “After an ultrasound, a biopsy, a scope, and a PET scan I was shocked to learn I had tonsil cancer.”

Kevin has made a career in nursing and was working as an occupational nurse at the time of his diagnosis. He knows a thing or two about health care.

“I was not, initially, considering Firelands as an option for my treatment,” he admitted. “But I had a friend who was diagnosed with cancer suddenly, just like I was. He was treated at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center at Firelands Regional Medical Center and he highly recommended the care here. I met with Dr. Hadzi and Dr. Rashid and the nursing team, and I knew that I didn’t need to go anywhere else. The care here has been wonderful.”

Kevin has private health insurance, but little dental coverage. With a head and neck cancer diagnosis like his, Kevin’s oral health became extremely important. As a result, he had to pay personally for most of the care he needed to ensure his mouth was healthy enough to endure cancer treatment.

“Experts say you should have three months saved in case of an emergency, and I did have that much saved,” he said. “Unfortunately, all of that was wiped out after my dental visits.”

Kevin continued to work and then went on unpaid leave for 22 weeks, racking up even more medical expenses. For the first time in his 52 years of life, he had to ask for help.

“I thought because I had health insurance, I would be fine,” he said. “But there are other costs associated with cancer. And cancer doesn’t discriminate. This can happen to anyone. I would have been in financial ruin without the help I received from donors to The Foundation for Firelands.”

Donations helped Kevin with transportation costs from his home in Oak Harbor to Firelands as well as prescription co-pays for essential medications.

“I suffered from extreme digestive issues and my insurance would not cover the intravenuous medication that relieved my symptoms,” he recalled. “But I really needed it. I wasn’t sure I’d survive without it. The Foundation for Firelands stepped in to help pay for this medication and it made a world of difference for my quality of life.”

One year later, Kevin is healthy and had this to say about his experience with cancer:

“You never know when you might need help. This year was, hands down, the worst of my life. But, this year also taught me that even during my worst moments, help is always there. Donation to this fund brought me an immense peace of mind. For me, and for others enduring cancer, the Cancer Program Fund is truly life-changing. Thank you!”

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