Dan Parrish of Holly Grove was enjoying his retirement, spending time with his wife and keeping an eye on a friend’s farm, when he realized something was wrong. “It was harvest season of 2021,” Dan remembers, “and I just had no stamina. It felt like the Lord wasn’t making enough air!”
Dan and his wife, Janet, went to their regular medical clinic in Clarendon, and found that Dan’s blood counts were low. A specialist was recommended, but it was going to be three weeks before he could get an appointment. “I was telling all of this to my good friend, Dr. Junie Simpson (retired from Jefferson Regional), and he asked to see the results of the bloodwork. I sent it to him, and he said ‘we need to do something right now. You need to be at the Jones-Dunklin Cancer Center.’ He got me set up to see Dr. Masood the next day at 9 a.m.”
Dan was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, or MDS, which is similar to Leukemia and can sometimes develop into leukemia. “Dr. Masood said on a scale of one to ten, with one being cancer free and 10 being leukemia, I was at a six. There were treatments available, but there was a major issue with the cost of the drugs.”
The pill recommended for Dan’s condition cost $8,000 a month. Insurance would cover a lot, but Dan and Janet would still have to pay $3,000 a month out of pocket for the treatment. “It was unbelievable to me,” Dan said. “I really thought it was a joke.” In fact, Dan hadn’t told his wife, but he had already decided the treatment was out of reach. “We both worked all our lives, now we’re retired and we’re fixing to lose everything we ever had, trying to pay for my medication.” But that was before the couple met Marie King.
Marie is the Financial Navigator at the Jones-Dunklin Cancer Center. Marie spends her days dealing with all types of financial issues for patients, and when she learned about the Parrish’s dilemma, she quickly got to work. Before long, Marie had secured a grant that will pay everything the couple’s insurance does not cover, allowing Dan to start taking medication for his diagnosis.
Kathy Ross, Director of Oncology Services at the Jones-Dunklin Cancer Center, has worked with Marie for years and has seen her make a difference in many lives. “Marie goes above and beyond for every single patient, making sure they get what they need, such as gas cards, prescription assistance or time to stay in the Cancer Center’s apartment if they have to travel for treatment. Our patients have a lot to deal with, and we’re very thankful for the experience and assistance Marie offers.”
On the day we spoke with Mr. Parrish, he and his wife had brought breakfast to Marie and her co-workers as a thank you for their assistance. “I was shocked and overwhelmed that he took the time in the middle of his illness to say thank you in such a special way,” Marie said. “It gives me such joy to know I have helped another patient alleviate their concern about finances when they are trying to get well.”
While Marie continues to help patients daily at the Jefferson Regional Jones-Dunklin Cancer Center, Dan Parrish is continuing to improve. “This medication was obviously what I needed, because my numbers have been stable ever since I started seeing Dr. Masood,” he said. “I garden, work at the deer camp, and do pretty much what I want to. I just don’t do as much of it at one time as I used to!”