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CIRCLE OF HOPE HELPS TO EASE FINANCIAL BURDEN.

Byline: CONNIE LLANOS Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA -- As new medicines and technological advances in research inch toward cures for cancer, the cost of survival continues to escalate, making hope a commodity not every patient can afford.

In her own struggle against metastatic breast cancer, Colleen Shaffer decided she would do everything she could to bring hope to individuals battling the devastating disease.

Circle of Hope was born in 2004 and through various donation and fundraising efforts the five-year-old nonprofit provides financial aid, including paying for second opinions and medical services for women who live, work or receive treatment in Santa Clarita.

``When I was having doctor's visits two and four times a week I really became aware of the cost,'' Shaffer said.

For Shaffer, retail cost of the chemotherapy medication she takes in pill form, which controls her cancer, is about $3,400. Shaffer also needs an intravenous bone medication once a month, which retails at about $5,000.

For many in the medical community, the disparity in treatment for those who can and can't pay is a cause for concern.

``By and large new medicines are very expensive and it is creating a class of citizens who can and can't afford these life-saving medicines,'' said oncologist John Barstis, medical director for the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center.

Shaffer, founder and executive director of Circle of Hope, hopes she can bring a little relief to local women in need of help.

``Financial burdens are devastating to individuals struggling with breast cancer and they should be able to focus on recovery not death,'' Shaffer said.

connie.llanos@dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 21, 2007
Words:269
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