Rhylee Gerber from Below Deck was floored when she learned her stepfather’s cancer medication would cost $22,000 per treatment. John Lowrey needs not one but three treatments to help extend his life due to metastatic bone cancer.
The deckhand is trying to pitch in as much as possible. She’s working in Alaska and plans to return to Florida soon to be by his side. She describes Lowrey as “one the most loving, kind-hearted, gentle beings God has created. He dedicates every moment of his life to others and never asks for a thing in return.”
She posted an emotional video to Instagram, which is not Gerber’s style. She typically posts light content. But Gerber is deeply saddened about the thought of losing the man who helped raise her and taught her to fish when she was younger.
Anyone who has faced cancer knows the physical and emotional toll the disease takes on not only the individual but the family too. Gerber’s mother Judy Lowrey told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she’s always holding her breath before each test. “Because we were going along for a while after [John] had prostate cancer, getting regular tests, but they were all fine,” she recalled. “But then his PSA suddenly doubles?”
A PET scan revealed John, who is lovingly referred to as “Hoonie,” now had bone cancer. Further tests showed the cancer spread. Both Gerber and her mother assert that John is in good spirits and thankfully is not in pain.
But the family is now unwillingly on a rollercoaster ride. The devastation of a cancer diagnosis is enough to bring anyone to their knees. But the exorbitant costs to help extend life are crippling. Judy shared the family has private health insurance but the patient assistance program they signed up for didn’t have the funding to cover the medication that could help her husband.
Gerber makes an emotional plea
The family is doing everything possible to find the money to cover John’s treatments. Gerber said the treatment’s copay for Provenge alone will cost $22,000. Provenge has come under fire for its exorbitant cost. When the drug came to market in 2010, the cost was $93,000. Today that amount has ballooned to $120,000, MedCity News reports.
Along with her emotional video, Gerber wrote, “What do you do when there’s literally nothing you can do? I don’t know how to express this in the best way possible.” She refers to her stepfather as a kind and loving man who has played an important role in her life.
Gerber shared one example of the kind of person John is to the family. Along with a sweet picture of John standing in front of a sign she wrote, “At 77 years old, he climbed a ladder early one morning and strung up these heart felt letters for his wife to see before she left for work. No special occasion, no specific reason. Just because he loves her.”
You can help Gerber’s family
Because the family was running out of options, Gerber and her sister created a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of Provenge. She admits the family has other cancer-related expenses but hopes to find a way to at least fund these life-extending treatments.
Since launching the page, the family has raised almost $3,000 in less than 24 hours. Gerber is humbled by the outpouring of generosity. She posted about the donations on her Instagram story.
She circled some of the names of the many generous donors. “I cannot begin to express how incredibly honored I am to know that there are people in this world with hearts so big and so selfless as to help a complete stranger. Thank you already, so very much!” Gerber is also in the process of sending personal thank you notes to each donor.