Friday 23 March 2018

Easy Rider actress Karen Black uses crowd-funding to pay for cancer treatment

THE Oscar-nominated star of Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces has been forced to crowd-fund her treatment for cancer after her life savings were used up by previous medical costs and her insurance refused to cover a clinical trial in Europe.

Karen Black, 73, has raised nearly three-times their target with over $45,000 in donations by nearly 900 individuals after her husband launched an appeal on website GoFundMe 12 days ago.


Fans responded Stephen Eckelberry’s bid to raise $17,000 which described of the years of treatment his wife had undergone:


“Karen was diagnosed with ampullary cancer in November of 2010. She immediately had the ‘Whipple’– a third of her pancreas was removed,” he wrote.


“This was followed by extensive chemo and radiation back home at UCLA in the Spring and Summer of 2011. After suffering through nausea, fainting and losing over thirty pounds, she was finally declared NED – No Evidence of Disease in July.”


Mr Eckelberry said that by December 2011 a small tumour had grown and his wife was left “bedridden” by another operation.


“By spring 2012 she was doing a lot better and could walk around and was almost normal. But in June 2012, the cancer came back – and it started spreading – one near her lungs and one in her lower back,” he said.


After subsequent surgery and debilitating treatment to freeze the tumour in her lower back Miss Black was told by her oncologist that her best hope of survival was an innovative clinical trial in Europe.


“I cannot go into more details now, but I promise I will in the future as we get involved.  I will say that this is a medically supervised programme and it targets Karen’s kind of cancer.  In fact, we personally know two of the patients that have had remarkable recoveries from cancer there.  So we know it works, and right now it is her best and only shot,” Mr Eckelberry wrote.


Explaining why a Golden Globe-winning Hollywood actress, one of the most prominent of the 1970s and 1980s, should need to turn to crowdfunding, Mr Eckelberry said: “Yes, she was an actress in movies, but most of the high-paying work dwindled out many years ago.”


“She has a modest pension and medical insurance (thank goodness), but as anyone knows who has fought cancer, that is not enough.  In the last two years we have used up all of our savings keeping Karen alive – traveling – treatments, getting people to help her.  We have nothing left.  And the European treatment is not covered by insurance.”


Responding to the overwhelming generosity by fans who pledged money to “give Karen a chance” Mr Eckelberry wrote: “Everybody thank you so much for the donations and kind thoughts. Karen and are touched beyond belief. It's so great to know she can make this trip.”


- Matilda Battersby,

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