NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Non-profit The Chick Mission announces today that it will award 100 Hope Scholarships in 2021 to women ages 18 - 40 who are newly diagnosed with cancer and seek to preserve their fertility before starting treatment that may render them infertile. In 40 states, insurance will not cover fertility preservation unless the patient fits an outdated definition of infertile -- often calling for 6 months of pregnancy failure. This absurd Catch-22 means most women facing the daunting challenges of radiation, surgery, chemo, and/or drug therapy must immediately undergo an egg freezing cycle if they wish to have biological children in the future and do so at their own expense.
The Chick Mission has already awarded 100 need-based grants over the last three years. The program assists with the cost of egg preservation at a moment when women cancer patients are most vulnerable, right after their diagnosis. An estimated 1 out of 47 women will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer by age 40, and between 20 - 70% of cancer patients experience some degree of fertility impairment as a result of their treatment. Many women choose a less toxic dose of chemotherapy to help preserve fertility, even if it may increase the risk of cancer recurrence.
The Chick Mission was founded in 2017 by Wall Street veteran Amanda Rice, who was diagnosed with cancer three times before her 40th birthday. Her insurance provider told her she did not qualify for infertility coverage since she hadn't attempted to get pregnant for six months. While Rice paid for her own egg freezing and storage, which averages $15,000 - $20,000, she wondered what happened to other women who did not. She vowed to help others who could not afford the cost and to change the arcane regulations around fertility coverage for cancer patients.
"We are thrilled to be able to award 100 Hope Scholarships in 2021," said Rice. "It's reprehensible that insurance companies penalize women at the moment at which they are most vulnerable, claiming to dispute their future fertility through requiring they attempt pregnancy at this devastating moment in their lives. It's like a bad dream, except it's real."
Hope Scholarship recipient Roshni Kamta, 24, describes her experience: "My insurance told me they do not cover fertility treatment until you are deemed infertile, which would mean after I am put into menopause, as a result of chemotherapy treatment. I thought about the logic of this; no one would give you a life vest after you have already drowned, right?"
In addition to helping cancer patients with the Hope Scholarship Program, The Chick Mission advocates for the passage of state-by-state legislation mandating insurance companies cover egg preservation for young female cancer patients. In 2021, they will support pending legislation in Texas.
To qualify for a Hope Scholarship, recipients must be between the ages of 18 and 40, not yet started treatment, and earn less than $150,000 annually if single and under $200,000 if partnered. Visit https://www.thechickmission.org/ to learn more.