Baseball coach gets help with cancer fight

AP News
Posted: Sep 10, 2012 4:06 AM
Baseball coach gets help with cancer fight

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — As a minor league baseball coach, Brian Rose has always been a competitor and has tried to imbue his team's players with that same fire.

Now, the bench coach of the Wichita (Kan.) Wingnuts of the independent American Association is fighting for his life, diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma.

The suburban Austin resident recently won a battle to pay for his participation in a clinical trial, but it wouldn't have happened if not for the help of a pair of foundations and an Austin businessman.

The Austin American-Statesman ( reports Rose, who lacked medical insurance, got help from the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Cancer Navigation Center and the Patient Advocate Foundation. Then Austin businessman and philanthropist Milton Verret pledged $35,000 and issued a community challenge to raise the rest.

"It was absolutely unbelievable," Rose told the newspaper. "You hear these stories in the news where somebody steps up to help, but that's just another world to me."

Rose was diagnosed in April 2010 with cancer that, by the end of the year, had spread to his lungs, liver, spleen and brain. Rose had no medical insurance and was having no luck getting any because of the pre-existing condition.

"It was like, 'I have melanoma all over my body, but if I get the flu you'll take care of me? Thanks,'" he said.

The Patient Advocate Foundation, which helps people grapple with insurance problems, and Armstrong's foundation helped him access coverage through the federally funded Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. But the insurance company refused to pay when Rose tried to get into a clinical trial for a new drug earlier this year.

"Sadly, Brian is not alone, and the work of the foundation is never done," said Rachel Armbruster of the Armstrong foundation.

Rose needed $70,000 and was out of options, so he and his wife posted a video plea for donations on YouTube. That's were his plight came to Verret's attention.

Not only did he pledge $35,000 and issue a community challenge to raise the rest, he promised to cover any shortfall.

"There was a life-and-death situation going on here. I did not have any choice as far as I was concerned. I have the money, so I wanted to do it," Verret said.

Ultimately, that was unnecessary. Last month, Rose's insurance company agreed to cover the cost of the experimental treatment. But Rose says the support he got from the community boosted his spirits and, by itself, is helping with his recovery.

"I wake up with gratitude because I wake up," he said. "I go to sleep with gratitude because I get another chance the next day."


Information from: Austin American-Statesman,