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Oklahoma mother battling breast cancer receives good news about proton therapy treatment

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma mother who is battling breast cancer says she recently received a bit of good news.

Hauli Gray has been fighting breast cancer for almost a year, and has already undergone multiple treatments and surgery.

“Not only did I lose a breast, that’s a part of me, that’s a part of me that’s gone forever. And, it’s trying to get over that. You almost want to feel shame because it was like you were whole and now you’re not,” Gray told News 4. 

Gray’s doctors said they feel like Proton Radiation Treatment is the only real option for her.

Doctors said that because Gray’s cancer is so close to her heart, they fear traditional radiation would put her other organs in danger.

However, Blue Cross Blue Shield Oklahoma denied her claim for proton therapy multiple times.

“There are many different types of cancer, and treatments can vary in their efficacy. Proton beam therapy has been used to treat cancer for many years. BCBSOK continues to cover it as a therapy in certain instances; however, today, medical advancements have led to new therapies that are equally or more effective with fewer side effects. For some cancers, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and CyberKnife are standard, proven treatments. Like proton therapy, those treatments can minimize damage to healthy, surrounding normal tissue.

Every request for proton beam therapy received by BCBSOK is reviewed by a radiation oncologist, not affiliated with BCBSOK, who is trained in proton beam therapy. The reviewer’s decision is based solely on the unique medical evidence of each case, and there is no financial incentive for the reviewer to either approve or deny the request. The external reviewer makes the decision, and BCBSOK accepts the expert opinion rendered by this radiation oncologist. Likewise, appeals are reviewed by a different radiation oncologist to evaluate the case.

We help our members gain access to safe, appropriate and effective health care, backed by our dedication to evidence-based medicine,” Blue Cross Blue Shield Oklahoma said in a statement.

Gray was supposed to start treatment six weeks after her surgery, and doctors warned that each day that passed put her more at risk.

News 4 learned on Tuesday that ProCure Proton Therapy Center will cover the costs of Gray's treatment.

She is expected to start treatment later this week.