March 18, 2021 Blogs

I don’t know how I’ll be able to afford treatment.

My name is Lynn Scarfuto and I live in Herkimer, New York. I’m a retired nurse, having worked with cancer patients as a nurse navigator for nine of my 25-year career. My job was to work with cancer patients to ensure they received the best treatment possible.

After retirement, I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and later, lung cancer. My journey with cancer has not been easy. I had a thoracoscopy to remove the right lower part of my lung and will have to follow up for five years to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned. My CT scans have all been negative for recurrence of the lung cancer, but my leukemia still needs treatment. 

My oncologist prescribed Imbruvica, a single-agent oral chemo/kinase inhibitor, to treat my leukemia. The monthly cost of Imbruvica on Medicare Part D is over $13,000. I don’t have the financial resources to pay for this, so I rely on a patient assistance program to cover the astronomical cost of Imbruvica. 

Thankfully, I’ve secured funding through the end of 2021. But if I don’t secure long-term funding to cover the astronomical cost of my prescription, I don’t know how I’ll be able to afford treatment. I spent my life working to make sure my patients had the best treatment possible. Now, I am terrified I won’t be able to obtain those same resources. Instead of enjoying my retirement and focusing on my health, I carry around the overwhelming burden of Imbruvica’s price. 

Without patient assistance programs, I don’t know who can afford the sky-high price of Imbruvica. We need changes to the system that not only lower the price of drugs like Imbruvica, but rein in the greed of drug companies that allowed these prices to get so high in the first place. 

As a retired nurse and cancer patient, I have a first-hand understanding of how our system works. Patients like me shouldn’t be denied access from receiving treatment because of pharmaceutical companies’ greed. Our health care system must prioritize patients’ health over a few extra dollars of profit for pharma companies. I hope our leaders agree with me and work to rein in these cost-prohibitive prices.


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.