Marie Enderton

By proton-admin | July 3, 2018

“It’s preposterous that patients like me are expected to battle our cancer and our insurer in order to survive. I know that there are other stories like mine that need to be told, which is why I am urging others to become advocates for proton therapy in order to ensure that nobody faces an unfair insurance denial in the future.”


The course of my life changed drastically when I was diagnosed with Stage 3A Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer in March of 2014. After my diagnosis, my oncologist informed me that my severe emphysema meant that I was unable to have surgery or radiation.

Within a week or two of researching other treatment options, I discovered proton therapy as a potentially life-saving treatment option and was committed to learning more. After the Radiation Oncologist examined my PET and CT scans, she said that the location of the tumor on the right edge of my right lung meant that I was a good candidate for proton therapy, and I was elated.

As an employee of the Federal Government, I thought that I had good insurance – I was certainly paying for it! – but I quickly learned that was not the case. After loyally paying premiums for 27 years, I had assumed that my insurer would be there to pay for my treatments, but my coverage was denied. Shocked, I appealed to my insurer a total of three times but was denied each time. My frustration grew as I repeatedly waited weeks for my appeal to process, only to be denied access to the treatment that I so desperately needed. I couldn’t waste any more time, so I decided to self-pay for proton therapy treatment.

Despite initially being told that I only had 18 months to live, here I am – more than 4 years later! Proton therapy has allowed me to not only beat my survival expectancy, but also to thrive.

Though I am extremely thankful for the care that I have received from my wonderful team of doctors and nurses, I can’t help but be disappointed with my insurer’s refusal to pay for lifesaving treatment. It’s preposterous that patients like me are expected to battle our cancer and our insurer in order to survive. I know that there are other stories like mine that need to be told, which is why I am urging others to become advocates for proton therapy in order to ensure that nobody faces an unfair insurance denial in the future.