For almost five years, 22-year-old Todd Blake has lived with an unusually persistent form of Hodgkin's lymphoma, which normally is curable.
Blake's treatment has included chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants, with much of it provided in the college student's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. But other treatments have required trips to cities as far away as Seattle.
Recently, after the discovery that his previous treatment regimen was no longer keeping his cancer in remission, Blake was offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial at the Center for Lymphoid Malignancies at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
That offer came with a catch: Blake would have to fly to New York once a week, for at least eight weeks. If the treatment works, he still would need to keep flying to New York about once a month—"endlessly," he noted—and if it doesn't work, he would begin a different trial that would require once-per-week trips.
"If I flew by myself every single time, it would probably be over $500 per trip when all is said and done," Blake said, noting the cost of a round-trip flight and ground transportation.
That was a prohibitive sum of money for Blake, he said.