Valley of the Sun, AZ

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Changing Lives One Cancer Patient at a Time

  October 07, 2016


By Kathryn Schuster, Inspiring Dynamic Women

Each October, we catch wind of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. I want to bring a bigger gust of wind your way on women’s cancer and the support that is available in our community. You never know who cancer is going to touch next; it could be your high school friend, a neighbor, your sister, mother, or you. From the early stages of prevention, to detection, treatment, all the way to remission, many of these women need help with day-to-day tasks. We will follow four of Arizona’s own organizations that have been helping cancer patients and their families with the little things that add up to make a big difference in their lives.

Singleton Moms
It might surprise you to know that there are over 17,000 single parents with cancer living in Arizona. That is more than the 13,365 high school teachers in the entire state. Raising a family today can be a challenging job, but imagine doing it as a single parent who’s battling cancer. Life doesn’t stop with a cancer diagnosis. The bills need to be paid, dinners still need to be made, the house still needs to be cleaned, and children still deserve a childhood, which is where Singleton Moms comes into play.

Singleton Moms is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hope and practical support to struggling single parents with cancer. Their unique programs focus on the day-to-day needs of the entire family such as financial assistance, homemade family meals, house cleanings, birthday bags for the children, grants for extra-curricular activities, household supplies, and a self-run support group.

Over the past ten years, their programs have truly been a labor of love focused on determining what the greatest needs of single parents with cancer and their children are. They have worked hard to raise awareness and grow support so that they could successfully run all programs while increasing the number of families they provide services to.

People can get involved by volunteering, hosting a Bare Necessities drive, going to kitchen events to help make nutritious homemade meals, assisting with house cleanings, becoming a care coordinator for the parents, by or giving their times and talents for the many fun events they host. Singleton Moms also accepts donations to the Singleton Pockets program that assists in paying the parent’s bills. There are two volunteer orientations a month for people to learn more about Singleton Moms and all the ways to get involved. Please sign up for orientation on their web page for Saturday, October 8th at 10am and Thursday, October 27th at 6pm or any other dates. No one is to be singled out, help a Singleton parent today.

My Hope Bag
My Hope Bag is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing bags of hope to those diagnosed with breast cancer. Its founder, Sarah Ellery, was diagnosed with breast cancer over six years ago. Her thought was “We need to have a bag of hope for women going through breast cancer.” For more than five years, My Hope Bag has devoted its energy to passionately supporting the breast cancer community. Although the contents of the bags may change from time to time, the hand-delivered bags of hope are extremely popular. One might see pocket calendars, back scratchers, handmade glitzy bracelets (for her bling moments), Burt’s Bees lotion, or even beautifully designed greeting cards with a stylish flower pen. Another helpful item is the Hope Bag Notebook, it has a calendar/appointment scheduler in addition to some touching survivors’ stories as well as helpful resources.

As an extra kindness, if Sarah and her team know that a gal is going through chemo, they will bring her a blanket to keep her warm and comfortable during her treatments. Their volunteers provide regular in-person and over-the-phone communication and emotional support that really helps to comfort a gal during her breast cancer journey. My Hope Bag is committed to making sure no one has to face cancer alone, and they are doing it one bag at a time.

Teal It Up Foundation
As the founder of the Teal It Up Foundation, Jan Coggins “tees up” daily to fight for ovarian cancer survivors, so they can have a stronger voice in the community. While she supports all women’s health issues, ovarian cancer is personal. She’s a six-year survivor! To put this disease in perspective, all of her friends whom she started treatment with back in 2010 have since passed on from the disease. Ovarian cancer is relentless! It’s the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women today.

In addition to leading her own life and running her foundation, she is also involved with Survivors Teaching Students (STS), a program through the National Ovarian Cancer Alliance. Jan stands for developing a better education platform for ovarian cancer symptoms because there isn’t a simple screening test for ovarian cancer just yet. This is why Jan and her team started a foundation dedicated to raising money for vital ovarian cancer research. To date, they have donated over $100,000 to vetted research institutions to support their efforts in finding a cure for ovarian cancer. The Teal It Up Foundation strives to further educate the community about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Thanks to many donations, they have also assisted in paying for genetic testing for “at risk gynecological patients with no insurance.”

Likewise, Comfort Bags are provided to newly diagnosed and reoccurring ovarian cancer patients in two gynecologic oncology offices here in the valley. An amazing pet therapy program is provided at HonorHealth Thompson Peak and two chemotherapy rooms on a weekly basis. Plans are set to expand on both programs as they get more volunteers and dogs involved.

You will find more than 50 links on their web page that can provide the supporting resources one might need for you or a loved one fighting ovarian cancer. Remember, Teal is the color for Ovarian Cancer, so when you see it, support it.

Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump!
Holly Rose is a seven-year breast cancer survivor. She discovered breast cancer at the age of 39. She was still in the early stages when a friend posted a breast self-exam reminder on Facebook. During her treatment, she was showered with so many acts of kindness, and it was life changing. Following treatment and wanting to give back to her community for the kindness she received, she founded Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump!, which provides all women the chance at finding breast cancer in the early stages when it is most treatable.

Their grass-roots foundation began with simple online reminders to women via social media. While out in the community, they quickly realized there was a general lack of awareness regarding the facts on breast cancer and prevention across the board. Often times, you can spot Holly and her team giving free presentations on breast health and the facts regarding breast cancer. They share personal stories to motivate women to commit to breast health as well as valuable information on how to take steps to lowering one’s risk of breast cancer along with many other diseases.

In addition to education, they operate the WIG OUT program to directly assist breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment with free wigs. The Wig Out program is very different than most, the clients have the privilege of walking into a normal wig shop to select any wig of her choice. The foundation then pays the bill, which could be up to $250. To date, they have assisted over 700 women with a free wig: 267 of them in 2015 and 167 just this year.

This organization is always looking for places to give their breast health presentations, constantly needing volunteers to assist with making inspirational cards for clients, and is happy to take any donations that will help sustain the Wig Out program. So, Don’t be a Chump, Check for that Lump!

A huge round of applause for these amazing women that had a passion to make a difference by founding their own organizations. They truly have poured their hearts and souls into helping so many female cancer patients and their families in need. Since January 1st of 2016, collectively these organizations have helped over 500 women and their families directly as well as educated over 50,000 individuals. A great deal of support also comes from the thousands of volunteers and donors who have given their time, money, and love by standing alongside someone that needs a helping hand. You too can get involved and help with the little things that make a big difference in someone’s life. Let’s make this October a month when we are not only aware of women’s cancer, but where we are actively supporting those in need, however we can.

About the Author
Born and raised in sunny Mesa Arizona, I have always flocked to other driven women whom I look up to and longed to build lifelong relationships with. Working in the healthcare industry, I had a passion and saw the need to start a group where individuals not only network to build their businesses but also meet up and make an impact on our community by volunteering. In early 2015 at the age of 26, I founded Inspiring Dynamic Women, a networking and community outreach group which has monthly meetings and exciting volunteer opportunities. Our mission is to enrich our community through volunteerism which promotes the empowerment of women who encourage one another through compassion, education, and business. We have members from all walks of life, such as stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs, professional business women, and the list goes on and on. I’m honored to help get the word out on the many benefits one can receive by helping another human being. I encourage you to pick up the phone and contact any of these organizations to do your part in making your community a better place. After all, “A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink!”

Kathryn Schuster, founder of Inspiring Dynamic Women, can be reached at inspiringdynamicwomen@gmail.com or by phone: 480-567-2039.
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October 07, 2016
Keywords:  Feature Story

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