We get asked this question all the time. Does a one-time Lemonade Fund grant really help? Some of our applicants are locked in systemic cycles of poverty. What do we really know about how much the modest help we can provide impacts survivors’ financial well-being?
A study published in 2020 investigated the financial status, burden and feelings of breast cancer survivors who received short-term financial assistance (like a Lemonade Fund grant), alongside emotional support, and resource navigation from a community organization during treatment.
Recipients of these services were asked to assess their perspective on their financial status and burden before, during, and after diagnosis and treatment.
The results were interesting, though not surprising. The respondents reported that they felt a significantly worse financial status after being diagnosed compared to before diagnosis. Financial distress was highest during cancer treatments, lowest prior to treatment. But feelings of financial distress did remain high after treatment. To a certain degree, this is expected given the uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis and remains with survivors long after.
But the results did demonstrate a strong correlation between those that reported higher distress after treatment and those that reported lower social support during treatment. Meaning that most felt receiving financial assistance did improve their quality of life and made them feel more in control of financial decision-making. The breast cancer survivors who reported low social support during treatment reported higher financial distress post-treatment.
This study related to breast cancer patients in the United States, where the high cost of medical treatments weighs heavily in the financial toxicity equation. Fortunately Israel’s national healthcare system takes that out of the equation.
So the question of whether we are really making a difference for us in Israel is a bit different. Those who are approved for Lemonade Fund grants are suffering pure financial distress from the extenuating circumstance and financial side effects of their illness. Like being able to pay rent or mortgage, utility bills, groceries, travel costs, and extra childcare while patients are in treatment. Not because they had to make a choice between paying for medication or food. But because there simply was not enough for food. That’s where we come and help them till they can get back on their feet.
So to answer the question of can we really help? Yes. Every little bit DOES count.