Appelbaum, who has about 100 patients that she counsels from diagnosis through treatment, surgery and into cancer survivorship, said Johnson is the only male breast cancer patient at the Charleston Cancer Center. In her career, she said, she's only had one other male breast cancer patient.
"Breast cancer is not exclusive to women, I know there's not near as many cases [in men] but it's certainly an issue to think about," she said. "What this 26-year-old man is going to endure, with chemo radiation and surgery, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. This boy is never going to recover financially."
Appelbaum said that while the Center will be able to help with some of his finances for breast cancer treatment, the bills for his chemotherapy and eventual surgery will be astronomical.
Johnson, who was sent to the not-for-profit Roper Saint Francis Hospital for treatment, said his bills have already added up to about $4,050 since July.
"It's stressful on me and my family, especially now that I can't work because of what the chemotherapy does to my body," he said.
He is scheduled to get chemotherapy once every two weeks for the next two months, after which he will receive chemo once a week for 12 weeks. Surgery to remove the lump will be arranged soon after that.
So far Johnson has applied for Medicaid twice, and he said that both times representatives have told him his applications were rejected because they're not able to provide a man coverage for breast cancer treatment.
Johnson said the case workers have told him they would research how they can possibly cover him and that he should follow up with them.
In the meantime he keeps getting bills almost every time he gets the mail, he said. Appelbaum said she's contacted community leaders and lawmakers in Congress hoping for a change.
The only positive response she said she's received has been from the office of Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., providing her with names of local organizations and individuals who might be of assistance for now.
"It's always one day at a time," she said. "We will continue to try our best because we want to help people, it's our job. For now we'll put Raymond on a payment plan, even if it's only $5 per month that he's able to afford, we'll take it, and we'll never send him to collections."