McLean Parents Fight Insurance Co. for Life-saving Treatment
Former Langley Student Needs Experimental Treatment
Many McLean residents know Al Stephenson, the stellar soccer referee coordinator for McLean Youth Soccer for 10 years.
What they probably don't know is that his 23-year old son, Will, has been fighting testicular cancer for 4 ½ years, but his health insurance plan won't pay the $335,000 needed to pay for experimental treatments to wrestle this disease to the ground.
"A leading insurance company conglomerate refuses to cover a potentially life- saving clinical trial for 23-year-old William Stephenson," his family wrote on his Facebook page in November.
"The clinical trial has accepted him as a good candidate for this trial (13 of the 16 patients who have participated in this trial have been cancer-free for more than a year). In preparation for his participation in the trial, oncologists have temporarily stopped the spread of Will's cancer through conventional chemotherapy and are anxious to get insurance approval in order to enroll him into the clinical trial as soon as possible.
"Our mission is to persuade Golden Rule Insurance Company to reconsider their decision and pay for Will's clinical trial -- which may ultimately save his life!" the family said. Golden Rule is part of United Health Care.
A spokeswoman for Golden Rule said there would be immediate comment.
The Stephenson's insurance will pay for traditional chemotherapy for Will, but not for Phase 2 of an experimental program at the Houston-based cancer center. The family is renting a $3,000-a-month apartment in Houston while Will continues to undergo the traditional treatment.
"We're in uncharted territory. We have to do something and see how it goes and figure out the next step," Barbara said.
Al and Barbara Stephenson don't know where to turn. They are cashing out their IRAs and hoping to sell their McLean home to help raise the $335,000 to pay for treatment at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
They search for any support they can find for their son who was first diagnosed with cancer when he was 18 and has now been accepted as a good candidate for the clinical cancer trial in Houston.
Will graduated from Langley High School in 2005. He was first diagnosed with cancer a year later. He had many rounds of chemotherapy. Doctors thought Will had beaten cancer, but it returned in August 2009.
The family's neighbors and friends in McLean are working on holding a fundraiser for the family but so far have not been able to figure out how to set up an account so donations are tax deductible. Friends created a Facebook page about Will at Save Will Stephenson.
"We are looking at different avenues to raise money," said Sydney Duberstein, a McLean friend. "He and his family have been very involved in the community, and we're hoping their friends and neighbors will rise to the occasion."
"I feel desperate and a little frustrated," Barbara says. "Having to try to deal with these insurance companies and trying to get them to cover treatment at a time when you have an extremely sick child is very difficult."
Will is the only child of the Stevenson's, a retired couple in their mid-60s. Despite his four and a half year battle with cancer, Will graduated Magna Cum Laude in General Studies from Northern Virginia Community College this past May. He hopes to earn his bachelor's degree in a field related to photography and graphic arts.
In McLean, he pursued soccer, both as a player and a referee. He was named "Youth Referee of the Year for McLean Youth Soccer" six years ago.
It's a good time of year to reach out to the Stephenson's. They could use your help, your support and your love.
Barbara is reachable by email at email@example.com or by snail mail at:
3 Hermann Museum Circle Dr.
Houston, TX 77004-7973