27 Providing Legal Assistance to Low-Income Cancer Patients Cancer patients expect there to be side effects to their treatment, things like feeling awful after chemo or recovering from surgery to remove a tumor. They know they can draw upon their doctors, patient support groups, or loved ones to help them through their physical discomfort. It’s the illness’s legal side effects that can crop up unexpectedly, and low-income patients don’t have the means to find relief. Some need to put together wills; others have to make plans for the care of loved ones who will survive them. Patients without any family in the country to act as caregivers may need a visa for a family member. It’s through the bond with their patients that medical teams learn of their patients’legal worries. Such was the case with “Wendy,” a cancer patient in her sixties at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who was being evicted from her apartment after 13 years of living there. It was a no- fault eviction—the owner, her elderly mother, needed to sell the property or risk being evicted from her long-term care facility. Wendy was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer 11 years ago, and her struggle with her health has left her unable to work. Recovering from a surgery to remove part of her large intestine,Wendy needed more time to find a new place and move into it. Thankfully, Dana-Farber had a pro bono legal clinic to refer Wendy to for help. The driving force behind the clinic was Richard Boskey, senior vice president and general counsel at Dana-Farber. Through his leadership, the hospital and the Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston, along with several partner law firms and departments, started the clinic in 2011. “Many years ago, Mintz Levin was the first law firm to work with the Medical-Legal Partnership. When we were approached by Dana-Farber, along with other firms, to start up this clinic, we encouraged them to team up with the Medical-Legal Partnership,” says Sue Finegan, Chair of Mintz Levin’s Pro Bono Committee.“We then arranged to staff the clinic for a year with one of our deferred Associates, Rebecca Diamond.” Attorney Yalonda Howze oversaw the firm’s pro bono participation in the clinic in its inaugural year. Attorney Nick Bentley took Wendy’s case and reached a settlement that allowed Wendy to stay in the home for another two months and be reimbursed for moving expenses while also allowing her mom to sell the home. “We were able to find a solution that worked out for everyone,” says Nick.“We were incredibly grateful the Medical-Legal Partnership was there.” Rebecca observed first-hand the positive effect the clinic had on patients’ quality of life. “I had people tell me,‘Just meeting with you now makes me feel better.’” Caring & Sharing I have seen how receiving this legal support has lifted weight off my patients’ and their families’ shoulders and has allowed them to focus on their treatment and healing. To have this resource available to offer patients during a time of such hardship has been invaluable. Rachel Allende, LICSW Clinical Social Worker Dana-Farber Cancer Institute The Power of Partnerships