Two years after fundraising for her own liver transplant, James Bay resident Peggy Mahoney is giving back by creating a website to help others get the financial and emotional support they need to receive life-saving treatment.
The website – caretohope.ca. – has been a cathartic release of sorts for Mahoney after being diagnosed with a rare live disease in 2009, which resulted in a liver transplant two years ago.
As Mahoney and her family sought support and resources for the life-saving surgery, she learned it is the patient who must pay for most of the out of hospital costs, such as expensive medications, supplements, the cost of travel, and the costs of a support person to provide care during recovery.
For Mahoney alone, those costs were more than $20,000.
“It’s a rude awakening,” she said. “People don’t realize when you get really sick so many costs aren’t covered.
“After my transplant, I learned some patients are not able to meet these financial burdens and deemed ineligible or are choosing to forego treatment.”
It’s a situation Mahoney called “inhumane, just crazy.”
As she was recovering, Mahoney thought she could create an online tool that would help people create a fundraiser for themselves. The idea for caretohope.ca was born.
Tailored much like a crowdfunding website, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, caretohope.ca takes a more minimalistic approach.
“This is really the first niche crowdsourcing website in Canada,” Mahoney said. “Nobody else has zeroed in to do it in a small way.”
And its packed with free information about Canadian and regional financial resources, a forum to connect with other patients, and an easy to use fundraising platform for patients to raise funds.
“CareToHope.ca is my way of using my knowledge and experiences to pay forward the support we received,” Mahoney said.
One Vancouver woman, Caroline Lennox, is struggling with Lyme disease complicated by a systemic mold infection.
After a year of inconclusive testing in Canada, Lennox spent more than $3,000 for a definitive diagnosis from tests in the U.S. She estimates that it will take four visits to an American clinic and cost about $50,000 for this treatment over the next year. She has turned to CareToHope.ca for support and to fundraise for these costs.
“Patients in Canada need financial assistance to cover the costs for many treatments and procedures that are not covered by our supposedly universal system” says Mahoney.