Heart At Work: CVS Specialty team manages the impossible for a breast cancer patient | CVS Health

CVS Specialty team manages the impossible for a breast cancer patient

Shawn Torres and Lakeisha LeGrand sit outdoors.

The letter from Jerome Tillis of Miami Beach to CVS Health CEO Karen S. Lynch reads, “Allow me to make your day. Recently, my daughter, a cancer survivor, had major problems with a prescription. You have two team members who made everything work.”

Jerome’s daughter Andrea depends on Verzenio, a medication that treats advanced metastatic breast cancers. “I take it twice a day. I’m high risk for cancer reoccurrence and this gives me hope,” she explains.

Each year, Andrea accompanies her partner and caregiver, Eddie, to work in Switzerland for three months. When she tried to secure enough medication for the upcoming trip, she hit a wall. “My insurance wouldn’t allow me to order it until a week before leaving and they only allowed a month’s supply. The rest had to be shipped,” says Andrea. “I couldn’t imagine $13,000 worth of this drug that’s keeping me alive, being lost en route.”

Andrea reached out to the CVS Health Oncology Ultra Touch team at the Orlando, Florida specialty pharmacy.  A group of some 30 specialists, they are available 24/7 to support patients in need of rare medications to treat conditions such as breast, bone and cervical cancers.

“She was really scared,” shares Lakeisha LeGrand, Patient Care Specialist. “My first thought was, ‘I’m going to make this happen.’ But, I knew we didn’t have much time.”

Andrea Tilis smiles and holds up a small dog in one hand.
“Shawn and Lakeisha made me feel like I was their mission,” says Andrea.

Doing what it takes to get a breast cancer survivor her meds

Lakeisha and colleague Shawn Torres worked around the clock, making over 20 calls and sending paperwork to Andrea’s insurance company to get an override and permission from her doctor. All the while, keeping Andrea updated.

“Something like this generally takes much longer but I understood her anxiety,” says Shawn. “Both my grandmother and my aunt were breast cancer survivors. It was so hard for them, like it is for Andrea.”

“When you have cancer, trying to be as normal as possible is really important because there are so many levels of stress,” adds Andrea.

“Shawn and Lakeisha totally understood that. They calmed me down. They made me feel like I was their mission.”

Their mission paid off; Andrea never skipped a beat taking her medication.

“We are trained for all kinds of situations,” says Lakeisha. “We are like a family here, a family helping other families deal with some of their most difficult days.”

“I’ve never worked in a job that made me feel as good,” adds Shawn. “Every day, I feel like I’ve touched someone and helped them live a better life.” 

Thank you, Lakeisha and Shawn, for doing whatever it takes to help your patients. 

Editor’s note: Andrea was diagnosed with a genetic form of cancer on Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, October 2019. “I was shocked because I’m a personal fitness trainer, have a holistic approach and eat organic.” Her advice to all women, “If you feel or sense anything strange, reach out to your doctor immediately. It could save your life.”

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10.27.21