Local veteran fighting throat cancer seeks life-saving benefits

The appeal process will take an estimated 18 months

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Life could be easier for Dan Parks but he doesn't complain. 

"It hasn't been a cake walk, I'll tell you that," he said. 

Dan served for the U.S. Navy from 1969-1973. He was stationed at New London and worked around ammunition and weapons, not realizing he was exposed to ionized radiation until his discharge form clearly stated. 

"You got to deal with what you're dealt," Dan said, and he was dealt with throat cancer in 1995. It took much of his voice, as he puts his thumb in his throat to speak but it didn't take his spirit.

He's been out of the service for 45 years but Dan Parks is still fighting. This time he's battling the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The VA does not pay for his treatment, which costs between $8,000-$10,000 annually. 

"I take 18 pills a day."

He's technically in remission, but the medicine is costly and the bills are piling up. 

He applied for healthcare from the VA in 2014 but was denied. 

The treatment isn't covered even though Park's file clearly states he was exposed to ionized radiation. 

"Every time, they tell me I do not have enough information to pass their requirements.”

Doctors have sent notes on his behalf, citing that ionized radiation that Dan was exposed to could have contributed to the development of throat cancer. 

The community has rallied around Dan, starting a petition online that's garnered more than 5,400 signatures in a week. 

Dan is grateful for any help as he continues to fight for life-saving health benefits. 

He filed an appeal but was told it takes 18 months for review. 

NBC Charlotte reached out to the VA for a statement, they say they're unable to comment on his records without paperwork. We are working to complete that and will bring you more information as it comes available. 

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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