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Cancer Care: Area residents take advantage of service

Volunteers at this year’s Stick it to Cancer annual fundraising hockey event for Cancer Care of Marquette County are pictured. Cancer Care of Marquette County, which provides financial assistance to Marquette County residents who have cancer, is a nonprofit grassroots organization comprised of volunteers. The organization has served 50 to 60 cancer patients so far this year, and is working to spread the word about the resources it offers. It’s a simple application process to receive assistance, organizers emphasized, as it is non-income based and the only requirement for assistance is to be a Marquette County resident who has cancer. (Photo courtesy of Cancer Care of Marquette County)

MARQUETTE — A cancer diagnosis can come with many physical, emotional, and financial stressors that deeply impact patients and their families.

In an aim to alleviate some of the stress and worry that can accompany a cancer diagnosis, the nonprofit Cancer Care of Marquette County has been working for the past several decades to provide financial assistance to Marquette County residents who are battling cancer.

From “co-pays, deductibles, insurance premiums, and travel expenses, we try to think out of the box and help the best way we can,” Marquette County Cancer Care Board of Directors Vice President Lynn Bartanen said.

It’s important to offer this financial support, she said, as the medical and travel expenses associated with a cancer diagnosis can accumulate rapidly, especially if a patient and/or a family member is unable to work.

“It adds up,” Bartanen said. “And we feel like they’re dealing with enough — just trying to live and get better — to be burdened with that as well.”

The only requirement to receive financial assistance from the organization is to be a Marquette County resident who has a cancer diagnosis, she said.

“Our application process is really simple, we’re non-income based,” she said.

This year, the organization has provided 50 to 60 Marquette County cancer patients with financial assistance.

“We try to be good stewards and give the most and best help to as many people as we can,” Bartanen said.

Beyond financial assistance, the group also aims to offer other forms of support, she said, as the organization works to help patients connect with other agencies and entities that can provide resources.

They can also provide a listening ear, she said, as many of the organization’s board members and volunteers have had a personal experience with cancer and know firsthand what patients are going through.

“It seems like it just affects everybody with someone they know or have lost or themselves,” Bartanen said. “Several of the people on our board have dealt with cancer, which has given them a heart for helping other people.”

The nonprofit group focuses on grassroots efforts to directly help local patients, she said, noting that the group is comprised solely of volunteers and relies on word-of-mouth rather than advertising.

“We’re pretty low-key and simple, just because we don’t want any of the money that people donate to go to anything except helping patients,” she said.

While the organization itself isn’t designed as a fundraising-entity, the group is a member of Marquette County United Way and is also supported by a variety of fundraisers held by businesses, organizations and area residents, she said.

A few fundraising examples include the annual ladies’ golf-outing at the Red Fox Run Golf Course; a charity motorcycle ride by the Marquette Chapter of the Warthogs Motorcycle Club of police and firefighters; a fundraising race at the Sands Speedway; a “Pink Night” held by the Marquette Golf Club Women’s Association; the annual Stick it to Cancer hockey game and numerous fundraising efforts and grants given by local businesses and organizations, she said.

For those who would like to lend a hand with fundraising, there are many opportunities to do so, Bartanen said. For example, area businesses have previously donated a portion of their proceeds over a given period, encouraged employees to donate and/or raise funds, or hosted parties and events as fundraisers, she said.

Those who are interested in volunteering can contact Cancer Care of Marquette County to find out more about volunteer opportunities, Bartanen said, as the group likes have volunteers to “help us to help the people doing these fundraisers” and can also benefit from help with basic tasks such as mailings and more.

“We’re hoping to get some younger people involved just for the longevity of our group as well as the energy and the contacts,” she said. “So we’re always looking for volunteers to help.”

Furthermore, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bartanen said the organization is encouraging area residents to get screened for breast cancer and be aware of the importance of doing so all year long — not just in October — as breast cancer “can happen to anyone.”

It’s important to do self-examinations and screenings as recommend, Bartanen said, as catching breast cancer early can make all of the difference in the outcome.

She also wants area residents to recognize that many cancers “don’t need to be a terminal illness anymore with the advances that have been made.”

“As long as people do their due diligence and get checked, almost none of them are a death sentence anymore; but you have to get there,” Bartanen said.

For more information about Cancer Care of Marquette County, how to apply for assistance, volunteer or fundraise, call Bartanen at 906-485-1114 or 906-360-4886; Cancer Care of Marquette County Board of Directors President Dave Poirier at 906-273-0045 or 906-362-9226, or Cancer Care of Marquette County

Patient Care Coordinator Karen Marietti at 906-486-6912. Interested parties can also visit or message Cancer Care of Marquette County on Facebook.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.