I am sitting on my couch that I got in 2002 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember buying it from a furniture store. The sales clerk told me how her friend died with breast cancer in her apartment with a hole in her chest. She couldn’t afford treatments. It ate the chest wall. I will never forget this real life story. I also wrote about it in the book I wrote, Dear Auntie, Why Me?
Through the years we come in contact with clients/patients who have had similar stories. In fact, you would not believe the stories we have been told. I have run a support group called Circle of Support. (I been on dragon boat teams, relay teams, and you name it; I have done it in the past.)
These patients have been financially stressed over having breast cancer and paying the bills related to treatments. When a patient tell us, “You saved my life,” we know we are making a difference in the lives of others. Often times finances is a very confidential manner. There is a distrust when you are called constantly about your unpaid bills. Some patients react, cry, tear up the bills, and get depressed.
Circle of Hope (http://www.circleofhopeduluth.org/) is a small organizations run by 8 board members and it has one board consultant. Most of us are breast cancer patients, so we know what the patients are going through. We can talk the walk.
-We have experience, knowledge, and we can make decisions as well as make suggestions.
-We don’t get any money from any clinics, hospitals, even though we tend to pay more patients bills from one.
We get referrals from many other organizations because the patients are not referred by their own medical facilities. Sometimes they are but not that often. They are lost in the shuffle of life. We serve women (or men) of all ages with breast cancer.
We have gotten referrals from one large medical facility for mammograms and genetic testing (not recommended by the genetic counselor). We don’t cover these items. Money has been given and raised for these procedures. It has been designated for that purpose.
There is the Free Mammogram Program through the Department of Health, Sage Program. There is low cost mammograms through ACS. There is also another foundation that raises money and donates money for this cause to clinics.
Did you know that 82% of the women who called in for free mammograms qualified for the Sage Phone Bank this year? I think that is pretty good and shows there is a need.
Circle of Hope is a 501-c-3 organization serving the public good of northern MN and northern Wisconsin. No one is paid a salary. It is a volunteer organization. It is listed on many national and state websites.
Circle of Hope is grateful to those who support us in kind, financially and with letters and notes. It is because of a combined community effort we are making a difference in the lives of others. It is those people who bring sunshine into others lives that make a real impact in the lives of others.