My name is Rhonda Edmonds and I am a breast cancer survivor. I am writing this letter to ask for your financial donation this holiday season to Cancer Services of Grant County. CSGC is a local organization serving local needs. We are not connected to any national organization and we are one of only 50 such organizations in the United States. We are funded through grants (including the Komen Foundation and the Avon Foundation), United Way and individual donations. In 2009, we will have been serving Grant County for 50 years. I say "we" because Cancer Services of Grant County has become an important part of my life.
In May of 2005 I found a lump in my right breast. Two mammograms, an ultrasound, five tumors and a biopsy confirmed a diagnosis of Cancer; the word that has touched most of us, frightens us all, and took my breath away. Following my diagnosis, there were countless doctor visits, eight rounds of chemotherapy, 28 days of radiation, a week-long stay in Marion General Hospital with chemo poisoning, mastectomy surgery and, of course, I lost my hair - twice. Throughout the ordeal, I was keenly aware of the fact that I am one of the fortunate ones. I have health insurance and the modest financial means to pay the expenses that are not covered by insurance. Never again would I complain about our $500 per month (and rising each year) premium. My insurance coverage paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Even so, in the two years following my diagnosis, my out-of-pocket expenses were in excess of $25,000.
Reading the above paragraph you might think I would have no need for Cancer Services of Grant County. They provide medical supplies and equipment like hospital beds, walkers, canes, wheelchairs, shower seats, linens, nutritional supplements, wigs, and mastectomy supplies. I could afford my own. They provide transportation to offices and treatment centers. I have a car and plenty of friends and family to take care of me. They provide education and information to guide cancer patients through their medical journey. I have the Internet, books and well-known, highly respected doctors. They provide financial assistance for prescriptions and help patients navigate the health-care system and find ways of paying medical bills. Through the BESS program, (Breast Education, Screening and Survival) they offer free mammograms to women who cannot afford them. I have my health insurance for that. They provide training for self-exams for breast cancer and testicular cancer. I visit my gynecologist yearly and have performed self-exams since I was 16 years old.
So why would I need help from an organization like Cancer Services of Grant County? I didn't. Or so I thought. My husband and I had, for several years, been volunteering our technology services to Cancer Services. We never imagined that we would ever need their help. Then, one day, we did. Jennifer Lane-Riefler, the Executive Director of the organization, became a lifeline for us; most particularly for my husband, Doug. She became a sounding-board, an education provider, an advisor and a friend. She called me often, just to check in, to see if there was anything she could do for me. The office of Cancer Services was a haven where I could take my niece and my friend (and hairdresser) to try on wigs, and laugh at myself as a blonde.
After almost a year of treatment and four surgeries, today I proudly call myself a survivor. I choose to talk about my cancer to help others on their journey. I serve on the Board of Directors for Cancer Services of Grant County, I humbly volunteer to assist patients through the CSGC office at Progressive Cancer Care, and I serve on the committee that presents Pink Friday - a banquet honoring breast cancer patients. I have met many courageous breast cancer survivors through their office, and cherish our time together.
I mentioned earlier that I am one of the fortunate ones. I am fortunate to have health insurance and the means to pay for my medical expenses. I am fortunate to have found my cancer early and to have access to the treatment that could save my life. I am fortunate to have family and friends to surround me. And, I am fortunate to be associated with Cancer Services of Grant County. So many local cancer patients are not as fortunate. With no insurance or inadequate health insurance and with no expendable income, they face certain financial disaster. Cancer Services of Grant County is a place where they can find help, and, perhaps even more important, hope.
Jennifer Lane-Riefler and her staff at Cancer Services of Grant County are deeply committed and personally invested in ensuring that all Grant County cancer patients' needs are served. They treat their clients with respect and concern. Your donation will help us achieve their vision; their mission:
"to lighten the burdens of illness, provide support, and empower the spirit to overcome"
I thank you, in advance, for your financial support.
Rhonda F Edmonds