Larry & Lani Sanders, Victorville, CA

Total eligible bills
$1,257,039
Provider discounts
$589,310
Total bills shared
$672,162

My husband and I had read for years about exorbitant health care costs and had firsthand experience with them. Our son was paralyzed in a car accident in 2010 and was hospitalized for three weeks, followed by several weeks of rehabilitation. The cost was well over a million dollars.

When we looked at Christian Healthcare Ministries, we knew that in this age and culture, it’s absolutely necessary to prepare for catastrophic events. In our minds, Brother’s Keeper is a necessity, not an option. So we joined the CHM Gold program and Brother’s Keeper.

My husband, Larry, thought he had a cold, and then bronchitis, in Feb. 2014. By May he’d become extremely pale and weak. We took him to the emergency room when at one point he couldn’t breathe. His lower abdomen hurt on the right side—a symptom we believed was caused by his continual coughing the day before. Doctors felt his side, diagnosing possible appendicitis.

However, tests revealed a large tumor perforating his colon. A hemoglobin level of 5.9 meant he’d lost almost two thirds of his blood. Immediately after receiving eight units of blood and four units of plasma and platelets, he had surgery to remove the volleyball-sized tumor. “Had you waited two or three days,” we were told, “Larry wouldn’t have made it.”

We were blindsided. What we thought was pneumonia turned out to be a large, benign B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. Cancer.

Everything seemed out of control. I was so afraid of losing him.

And the cost. As you can imagine, I was devastated the first time I called CHM. I called crying, not knowing what to do or say. The man who answered was kind and reassuring. He prayed for me right away, calmed me down and told me what I needed to tell hospital staff members because they didn’t understand my first explanation. He told me what to do when Larry returned home and the bills arrived.

I couldn’t believe we really didn’t have to worry about money while going through this process. Submitting the initial forms and bills was easier than I expected.

In time, Larry began to heal. He slowly regained his appetite and we prepared to take a trip from California to Baltimore for our daughter’s June 30 wedding. We’d planned to see an oncologist upon returning home. The cancer was benign and slow-growing, we’d been told. But as we left for Baltimore, Larry felt pain in his back and on the side where his tumor had been. It worsened so we went to an urgent care center for pain medication on the day of the wedding rehearsal. We made it through the wedding, but the pain was so bad that Larry needed a wheelchair at the airport during our return trip. That really scared me and we ended up in the emergency room again two day later.

“The cancer is everywhere,” a doctor told us. “One kidney is compromised and he needs blood.” I called a cancer center 80 miles away to get Larry admitted. His pain was horrible, and I was frightened. I knew I very well could lose him.

The center was tentative about admitting Larry because we didn’t have “conventional insurance.” I panicked and called CHM. Heather Collins in the Member Advocate department spoke with the center’s billing department to explain the process. Larry was admitted the same day.

After two rounds of chemotherapy, the cancer center’s financial office called to demand a large payment before the next week’s treatment. I again called Heather, who also had been contacted and was already working with the center. We returned for treatment on time, thanks to her help.

Words can’t express my gratitude for what everyone did on our behalf. Heather and our Needs Processing representative, Beth Kabellar, were amazing. I’m so very, very grateful. Their kindness and caring made our journey easier.

Yes, I was stunned at the cancer center’s demands, but it could have been so much worse. CHM had already proven how the ministry takes care of its members, so I didn’t feel threatened. It was a blessing to not be upset and worry myself sick. It was also a blessing to experience peace, knowing that God was handling it all through CHM.

At the time of this writing, Larry is receiving his fourth round of chemo. A PET scan revealed remarkable results. His doctor said he is in 95 percent remission! He’s terribly thin but otherwise doing well.

To date, we have incurred $835,763 in medical bills. We received $379,296 in discounts and we praise God that so far $456,151 has been shared by CHM members.

The kindness of so many folks at CHM and the comfort of paying a debt in full were incredibly encouraging. I have recommended CHM to others. Christian Healthcare Ministries is more than a way of paying medical bills. We share each other’s costs while becoming more responsible for our own health. We are responsible to each other because it’s based on the Bible and God’s love. We are blessed with the comfort of prayer from fellow members. Money can’t buy that and insurance can’t provide that.

We never expected to need Brother’s Keeper, but because we had it, we weren’t worried about catastrophic medical bills. We didn’t have to worry about losing our home or retirement savings. We were able to concentrate on Larry’s health. The peace afforded through those few extra dollars per quarter far, far exceeds the contribution.

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