JOPLIN, Mo- — Those who have been diagnosed with cancer have resources, help and support available to them from local nonprofit organizations dedicated to eliminating cancer and promoting early detection and prevention.
American Cancer Society
The local offices of the American Cancer Society offer hundreds of programs, services and supplies to cancer patients, said Ted Easley, community manager for the Southwest Missouri region.
One such program is called Patient Navigator. People who have been diagnosed with cancer can access the society’s network of oncology nurses and specialists for help understanding their diagnosis, treatment options and insurance issues, Easley said.
“When people are diagnosed with cancer, they’re entering into a vast foreign world,” Easley said. “The No. 1 thing that people want is information, and that’s what we provide for more people than anyone.”
The society also provides hundreds of wigs, breast prosthesis and nutritional supplements to cancer patients. Also offered is help with transportation and local lodging for cancer patients who live outside the Four-State Area but need treatment at Joplin hospitals, he said.
The society also provides support groups for cancer patients. A group called Look Good, Feel Better is for women who have been diagnosed with cancer and who are going through aggressive treatments that often affect their body and skin, Easley said.
“We partner with local cosmetologists who will meet as a group at a local hospital, and they teach them how to reapply makeup, how to style their wig, how to wear hats,” Easley said. “It’s very important to a woman to feel good when they go out.”
The American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event is Relay for Life, an often overnight or 24-hour event in which teams take turns walking or running around a track.
For every $1 raised by the American Cancer Society in fiscal year 2009, 33 percent went to national research programs; a quarter went to patient services such as support groups, transportation services and equipment; and 22 percent went to educational and advocacy programs, Easley said. The remaining 20 percent went to fundraising and management costs, he said.
Joplin-area Relay for Life fundraisers will start in May and run through July, he said.
Hope 4 You Breast Cancer Foundation:
This local breast-cancer awareness group focuses primarily on preventive care and early detection, said Sarah Burkybile, a board member.
The foundation recently donated $10,000 to Show-Me Healthy Women of Missouri, a state program that helps uninsured or underinsured women pay for mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and other services, Burkybile said.
“They’ve had huge budget cuts, so that’s why we donated $10,000 to them,” she said. “They’re an awesome program, and they do a lot for women in need.”
The foundation also donated $2,000 to the similarly structured Early Detection Works program of Southeast Kansas.
“Their big need was to get gas cards so women could get to their treatments and tests,” Burkybile said.
In addition, the foundation last year donated $4,000 to Freeman Health System and St. John’s Regional Medical Center foundations to help people pay for medical services, she said.
Burkybile recently helped launch a support group through the foundation, called Surviving Together With Hope, that meets on the first and third Tuesday of the month in donated space at 506 S. Main St. in Joplin.
“It’s a survivor-run support group,” said Burkybile, who is a breast cancer survivor. “It’s starting to kind of pick up more speed now because there’s such a need for it.”
Burkybile said that once the foundation builds up that support-group base, board members hope to start some educational classes and host guest speakers such as doctors or survivors.
In the meantime, board members are looking to the Race 4 Hope, a fundraising event on June 5.
“We like to honor our survivors (at Race 4 Hope), so we try to get as many people as we can there,” Burkybile said. “I think we do a very good job at making them feel special, and we’re here to support them.”
Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks
The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks is based in Springfield, but it regularly provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients across Southwest Missouri, said Crystal Webster, executive director.
People in treatment for breast cancer can receive non-medical assistance from the foundation, including help with rent, utilities or transportation, Webster said. There is also a special children’s fund to address the needs of children in a cancer patient’s household, she said.
Additionally, the foundation offers free screening mammograms for uninsured or underinsured women through a local contract, meaning that women don’t have to drive to Springfield for those services, Webster said.
The foundation can also earmark donations for a particular area of Southwest Missouri, Webster said. For example, donations received through last year’s Barnyard Days festival stayed in the Joplin area, she said.
Webster said the foundation gave more than $34,000 in assistance last year to people accessing services in Joplin.
“Every dollar we get is spent back right here,” she said.