9 Investigates VA refusing to pay for vet's 'service-related' breast cancer treatment

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A local veteran is being stuck with mounting medical bills, because the Veterans Affairs hospital has suddenly refused to pick up the tab.
 
She said her breast cancer was deemed service-related, but last summer a doctor looked again and said they would not pay for her co-payments and treatment.
 
Channel 9's Shannon Butler learned that the government is threatening to take her tax refund.
 
Marie Trone served 202 days at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in the 1980s.
 
It is a Marine Corps base that the government now says had contaminated water at that time.
 
"I lived in the barracks. I drank the water, showered in it," Trone said.


Raw: Interview with Marie Trone


In 2013, Trone, a professor at Valencia College, found she had breast cancer.
 
In 2012, a bill was signed ensuring those who came in contact with the water at Camp Lejeune and got cancer, would be receive 100 percent coverage from the government for their treatment.
 
She said she was relieved that the financial burden would not be on her.
 
"That was going to be the bright side," Trone said.
 
But then last summer the VA decided her cancer wasn't service-related.
 
Trone said she couldn't understand why doctors changed their mind, until paperwork showed up saying she was at high risk anyway.
 
"Because I am a female, apparently to the doctor that received my case, this is a quote, 'I am 100 percent more likely to get breast cancer than males,'" Trone said.
 
Since then she has been fighting the bills that continue to pile up for her co-payments. She has just a few weeks left of coverage for her cancer and she still has two surgeries to be done.
 
"Do you think the country you served, the government you served, has let you down?" Butler asked Trone.
 
"Yes, absolutely," Trone said.
 
Trone said she has received a notice that her tax returns will be garnished for not keeping up with payments.
 
VA officials would not talk to Channel 9 about the case other than to say they have contacted her to discuss the issue.