LEQUILLE, NS - Jordan Morgan had some good news to share Saturday evening. His chemotherapy appears to be effective and the drug company Eli Lilly may pay for the rest of his treatments.
Jordan was at Still Fired Distilleries in Lequille Feb. 17 where scores of people gathered to raise money to help him pay for an expensive cancer treatment not covered by MSI.
Jordan would not have been able to afford the $15,000-per dose Lartruvo chemotherapy treatment with a total price tag of $130,000.
When childhood acquaintance Sarah Yetman found out what he was facing, she started a GoFundMe page and so far has raised $21,753. Live Well Challenges started by realtor Andrea Smith have raised thousands more, and there has been a single contribution of $15,000. And Todd Newell who started the entire Live Well Challenge phenomena personally raised an amazing $6,000 for Jordan and presented him with the money Saturday evening.
The Still Fired event raised another $5,307 thanks to the generosity of the 117 people who bought tickets to the fundraiser and the numerous others who provided food, drink, and entertainment free of charge – with people helping out from as far away as Halifax and Meteghan.
Jordan, 34, is a nurse and worked at Digby hospital. About four years ago he was diagnosed with undifferentiated cell sarcoma after finding a lump in his leg. He’s had successive surgeries, tumours, and radiation, but this time there’s a tumour on his lung and time is running out – hence Sarah Yetman’s concern.
Jordan is from Annapolis Royal but now lives in the Digby area. After a story appeared on the Annapolis County Spectator and Digby County Courier websites, both communities rallied around Jordan, determined they would raise the money to fund his treatments.
With enough money raised by the public, by Feb. 17 he’d already started treatment at a clinic in Yarmouth and was able to share the good news about his health and plans by the drug company to help him. He re-iterated it the next day on Facebook.
“I had the opportunity last evening among friends and family to share some great news,” he wrote. “The drug company Eli Lilly has initiated a compassionate care program and I am enrolled in the application process.”
He said as it has been explained to him that means he should have coverage for his chemotherapy as early as his next cycle – pending approval.
“I can't help but be a little apprehensive,” he said. “This is the progress we have been fighting for though. This means the treatment will be covered for all Canadians in this situation. There is also no doubt in my mind that I received this treatment on time due to the timely support I've received from family, friends, and strangers.”
But there was more.
“This news combined with the fact that my chest mass seems to be getting smaller and less inflamed, has made this weekend pretty much indescribable,” he wrote.
Sarah Yetman hopes the Eli Lilly program goes ahead and Jordan is accepted.
“It does seem like this compassionate care program has only become available because of the community,” Sarah said. “Eli Lilly heard the cries of Annapolis and Digby on Jordan’s behalf and they listened. They approached Jordan’s oncologist to start the application process. So although there is the possibility he could be denied, I’m optimistic that this will turn out in his favour. The main thing is, our fundraising allowed Jordan to start chemo now, not months down the road.”
Sarah said that timing of getting the Lartruvo treatment started was very important.
“In Jordan’s situation, with his diagnosis, we didn’t have months or even weeks to wait for a compassionate care fund that didn’t even exist at the time,” Sarah said. “Had we not come together as a community I would bet Eli Lilly would never have stepped up. Who knows how many Canadian lives this has saved. We should be proud as a community of the change we have made, not just for Jordan, but for all those people who can now benefit from Lartruvo. Jordan has even said he can feel a positive change in his mass; and that’s after just two of 16 injections. That’s amazing. Absolutely amazing.”
Jordan had nothing but high praise for his local MLA Gordon Wilson.
“From the beginning Gordon was accessible, professional, and persistent,” Jordan said. “He kept me informed of his correspondence and efforts with the drug company. And he did an excellent job communicating and portraying to them the scale of the support I was receiving on a provincial level.”
“This kind of happy ending isn't always the case and I am truly grateful of everyone's efforts,” Jordan wrote. “I hope those in a position to recognize the faults in the existing system make notes and begin work to ensure the healthcare Canadians are getting, is the healthcare Canadians think they are getting. After all, it's a system. It can work.”
Garth Lescaudron organised the fundraiser for Jordan at Still Fired and was more than pleased by the response from the community.
“I feel like we had a very successful evening,” said Lescaudron. “I couldn’t have asked for more. We made an amazing amount of money from the communities. I couldn’t think of a better cause than helping out somebody in our community itself. A young person brought up within this community. I couldn’t think of anything better.”
Todd Newell issued a challenge a few weeks ago that had people donating $20 each to see him attach a live lobster to his hand by both claws. In just two weeks he raised just over $6,000.
For Jordan, he’s not afraid to talk about his experience and the health care system.
“I look forward to staying healthy and discussing my healthcare experiences with anyone interested,” he said. “And learning more about other people's struggles as well. I know I’m not the only one navigating a two tier healthcare system.”