CREATED Apr. 16, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A cancer diagnosis is devastating but it's even tougher for people who wonder how they're going to pay for the care they need. There are people in Nevada right now who are opting out of treatment because they simply can't afford it. But the Sapphire Foundation for Prostate Cancer is helping in a big way, making Las Vegas a better place to live.
John and Judy Karr remember better days when the garage was full of classic cars and they rode motorcycles carefree with their boys. It was a lifelong hobby spanning their 45 years of marriage.
John says, "We've been through a lot of good times. That's what's so fun to look at these old albums."
But prostate cancer has changed everything. The cars have been sold, the house lost, but the cancer and the bills keep pressing.
"We make our rent here and then we don't eat." Judy laughs, "No, we eat. We tend to just cut it down to two meals a day so we can survive."
John takes 14 pills a day and gets 2 injections a month. The co-pay for one of those injections? $2,400. Desperate, their daughter-in-law looked online and found out about the Sapphire Foundation for Prostate Cancer.
Janine McDonough is the executive coordinator. "When you are on disability, you collect 2/3 of your salary. But your mortgage, braces, tuition doesn't go down to 2/3. So you have to make a lot of tough choices. So I was really happy to be involved with a group like this that really wanted to reach out to the community and do what we can do."
And what they are doing is incredible, paying rent, hotels, gas money, insurance premiums. In the past 10 years they've raised more than a million dollars. To qualify you must simply be a Nevada resident with prostate cancer. McDonough says, "In the economy we have today it's not uncommon for people to fear losing their home. They have to decide, 'Will I keep this roof over my head or get treatment?' It's a tough decision."
A tough decision the Karrs nearly had to make. But the Sapphire Foundation just payed their rent for the next 3 months. John says, "So we feel really blessed that these people stepped up. If and when I come in to some money I'm going to donate it to this organization."
The Sapphire Foundation was started by Peter Fienstein, a managing partner of the Sapphire gentlemen's clubs.
Mr. Fienstein had prostate cancer and realized he was fortunate enough to afford the best treatments and wanted to help those who may not be able to afford their care.
The Foundation is having poker and golf tournaments to raise money on May 19 and 20. To participate, call Ellen Plumer, the director of Special Events at 556-2100.