The Cancer Care Fund of Kosciusko County kept Dee Salmons’ family from losing their home and vehicle while her husband, Steve, fought his short battle with colorectal cancer. That message was shared with approximately 150 individuals at the Cancer Care Fund of Kosciusko County’s Cares Cocktails for Cancer Saturday at Oakwood Resort Conference Center, Syracuse.
While the evening was a time to meet new people, talk with old friends, the purpose was to raise awareness in the northern portion of the county of the Cancer Care Fund, its purpose and the need for financial support. Formerly known as the Kosciusko County Cancer Care Fund, Dick Green, a member of the Community Outreach Committee for the fund, noted, “We were too often confused with Col. Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken).”
“This is the truest charity you are going to find,” Green announced, stating the monies raised at all CCF events — gala, golf outing, idol night, the event that afternoon — all goes to the fund. The funds are handled by the K21 Foundation with no administrative fees.
“All the money stays in Kosciusko County. It is intended to help those in economic disaster accompanying cancer.” Payments are made for health/life insurance premiums, car payments, utilities, food, prescriptions, wigs, prosthesis and more, which otherwise would not be able to do during the “storm that comes with having cancer.”
The fund has been in existence for almost 20 years, but many still do not realize it exists to utilize or to support. “We are outreaching to this corner of the county, one by one, dozen by dozen about the way (the fund) works and what we are …,” added Green. Last year the fund distributed $239,398.06 to county residents.
There was barely a dry eye in the room after Salmons told her story from the time her 45-year-old husband of 17 years found out he had Stage IV cancer Christmas Eve 2011, to his final moments Oct. 24, 2012. She spoke of how information on the fund was given to her, thinking “We won’t need that. We work hard, are strong independent people … cancer devastates the lives of everyone.”
Through treatments, Salmons continued working. But after a few weeks she did the math, her husband was the sole breadwinner. She was working, but her pay went toward benefits. “We were seriously in trouble financially. You folks are the reason the fund exists.” She explained how the paperwork was filled out and assistance was provided like clockwork every month.
Salmons told of the pain her husband endured, but didn’t give up even when the pain medication didn’t work, how an emergency room doctor encouraged her to let him go should he stop breathing and how he was laid off work, with no unemployment. Even though he qualified for Social Security disability there was a five-month wait period. “But we had Kosciusko Cancer Care Fund. Every month they made it so easy,” she said.
While she struggled to figure out how to pay other bills and lunches for her children and constantly care for her husband and children, the problem of having a roof over their heads and a vehicle for transportation was met. By the time cancer took his life, the disease had spread throughout his body, but he fought until the end.
She concluded, “The burden (financial) was tremendous … to know one life breathed easier because I lived .. we did because Kosciusko Cancer Care Fund. Every person who gives, chooses to be a stranger’s hero.”