Health First Patient Parks the Bike, Catches Ride with ‘Guardian Angel’ for Treatments at Cancer Institute

By  //  November 22, 2022

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cancer treatment appointments took about two-and-a-half hours by bicycle each way

Trips to and from Health First’s Cancer Institute on Hickory Street in Melbourne became routine for Bryan Marcrum. Without a car (or family or close friends nearby), his appointments took about two-and-a-half hours by bicycle each way. (Health First image)

Giving Tuesday funds life-saving connections, eternal gratitude.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – If looks could kill,” Bryan Marcrum said, remembering the look his Health First physician shot him when he told her he was bicycling from Palm Bay to make his appointments at Health First Cancer Institute in Melbourne.

“She said, ‘You’re doing what?’ I said, ‘I’ve been doing this for 20 years,’ but yeah, it’s finally gotten to the point where I need some assistance, and she was like, ‘Right, we’re not having this.’

Earlier this year, Brian had some sharp pains below his stomach that felt like a bladder infection. He went to the Emergency Department at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center. Later, he was given a surprising diagnosis: Stage 3 colon cancer.

Trips to and from Health First’s Cancer Institute on Hickory Street in Melbourne became routine. Without a car (or family or close friends nearby), his appointments took about two-and-a-half hours by bicycle each way. At first, they were manageable, he says, but lately he is sapped of strength and experiencing neuropathy in his extremities.

Health First patient Bryan Marcrum is being treated at the Cancer Institute at 1130 Hickory Street in Melbourne. (Health First image)

Compassionate Care and Guardian Angels

Health First is Brevard County’s not-for-profit healthcare system. Donations and gifts from the community contribute to technology, programs and clinicians that raise the level of care for all.

The Compassionate Care Fund is a big part of this. It provides eligible patients the assistance they need in the form of a Guardian Angel grant – an anonymous arrangement that may help with transportation like Bryan’s, prescriptions – even accessibility issues at the patient’s home.

Health First’s case managers, social workers and patient benefit advocates secure Guardian Angel grants for eligible patients in need. Often a ride to treatment or a piece of medical equipment will create a tangible and lasting impact for a member of our community. It might even save their life.

“Health First is Brevard County’s not-for-profit health system. That means we spend a lot of time answering two questions. How can we get more and more innovation and innovators through our doors so patients get world-class care? That’s one.
Two, how can we better care for the patients who come through our doors, because that’s how we measure value,” said Michael Seeley, President of the Health First Foundation.

MICHAEL SEELEY, above, is the President of the Health First Foundation, which helps improve the health and well-being of residents in the community by raising funds to support and advance the mission of Health First and its family of charitable healthcare providers. (Health First image)

‘You’re On Your Own’ No Longer

At Health First Cancer Institute, “It was like I had a whole team rooting for me, battling for me. I wasn’t used to that,” Bryan said.

Thanks to the Guardian Angel fund, Bryan now uses the ride-share service Lyft to get to and from his appointments.
Transportation is a chief obstacle for patients across a range of services at Health First offices, and supporters of the Compassionate Care fund will help people overcome that obstacle.

Because not having a ride shouldn’t keep you from battling cancer.

“I’m thankful for every day the patient shows up and gets their treatment and continues to make positive progress,” said
Jordan Hearn, a patient coordinator at the institute who helped match Bryan with Guardian Angels.

Bryan hasn’t missed a single treatment. He’s proud of that. Now, he’s nearing the end of his radiation schedule. “Fingers crossed,” he said.

“In my life, when something bad has happened, it’s always, you’re on your own. Figure it out. This is a whole new experience for me. It’s nice to know there’s people out there who have your back, who care for you even though they don’t know you. It’s a great feeling.”

With your help, the Compassionate Care Fund will continue to advance health and wellness for our neighbors.

Be a part of the worldwide Giving Tuesday experience, visit HF.org/GivingTuesday, email foundation@hf.org or call 321.434.7353.

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