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Neighbors helping neighbors

Cancer Care of Marquette County continues a 60-year tradition of assistance

Katie Kern, a Cancer Care of Marquette County board member, is pictured at the Stick it to Cancer annual fundraising hockey event recently. This is one of the many fundraisers held by individuals, businesses and organizations for the nonprofit organization of volunteers. For those who would like to lend a helping hand, officials said they can contact Cancer Care of Marquette County or visit the Facebook page to find out more about fundraising and volunteer opportunities. (Photo courtesy of Cancer Care of Marquette County)

ISHPEMING — A cancer diagnosis is a devastating blow that can be dealt to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The questions no doubt begin to swirl immediately when the news is delivered. How much will care cost; will I be able to work; how will I be able to get to treatment; where can I turn to for help?

The American Cancer society estimates there will be 58,360 new cancer diagnoses in Michigan by the end of this year, that’s 457 per 100,000 people.

After such a diagnosis, the cost of health care, the importance of finding a provider and the ability to get to critical chemotherapy and radiation treatments are added stressors to a cancer patient and their loved ones.

Cancer Care of Marquette County, formerly the Ishpeming Cancer Society, helps local cancer patients offset medical, transportation and other costs associated with treatment.

Marquette County Cancer Care Board of Directors Vice President Lynn Bartanen said since 2008, the first year computerized records were kept, CCOM has helped 468 people with a total of $762,063.

The organization is supported by the United Way as well as fundraisers hosted by various groups like the Red Fox Ladies Golf League, Marquette Women’s Hockey, and other businesses have come up with creative and poignant ways to generate donations.

“The ladies from the ishpeming Blessing Barn recently donated a portion of their sales during Breast Cancer awareness month and RTI in Marquette had a Lions/Packers game night party fundraiser. A local motorcycle club, the Warthogs supported us with a group ride this summer,” Bartanen said. “A racing family from Sands Speedway has done an annual fundraiser for us in memory of their husband/father who died of cancer and Anytime Fitness in Harvey has had an annual event with matching funds so there are many events to get involved in that match just about anybody’s interests.”

The money generated from the fundraisers stays local, Bartanen said, and overhead is low thanks to the organization being run 100% by volunteers.

“We keep our administrative costs as low as possible so that 96 to 98% of the funds donated goes directly to help residents of Marquette County,” Bartanen said.

The non-profit group was started in 1958 by a nurse named Priscilla Tasson who remained true to the pledge of helping local people for 40 years, according to her 2014 obituary.

Tasson noted that organizations like the American Cancer Society “were not offering grassroots help to local people.”

The application guidelines are simple, patients need only have a cancer diagnosis and live in Marquette County, household income is not considered.

The efforts go beyond simple financial support for medical bills and travel expenses that might be crippling to residents without CCOMC’s assistance.

“We are non-income based with the only requirement being a Marquette County resident with a cancer diagnosis,” Bartanen said. “Since we all live and work here, we try to offer contacts for patients as well for things we are not able to help with directly.”

Cancer, Bartanen noted, doesn’t “need to be a terminal illness anymore, with the advances that have been made.”

But in a time when cancer and heart disease account for about half of all deaths in the Upper Peninsula, it is important for residents to keep up on their health.

“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 for the organization, 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 or Patient Care Coordinator Karen Marietti at 906-486-6912.

Interested parties can also visit or message Cancer Care of Marquette County on Facebook.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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