News at Foundation for Commuity Care

Cancer Coalition Relief Fund

March 1, 2018


Since 2013, the Foundation for Community Care has managed the Cancer Coalition Relief Fund and granted over 180 fund applications, totaling $138,750 in financial assistance to local cancer patients. Two of those recipients are a local married couple, Matt and Karolyn Schultz, who were both diagnosed with two different types of cancer in the fall of 2016.

Matt was diagnosed with skin cancer and had cancerous lesions removed from his face through a surgical procedure performed by Dr. Kelly O’Neal, General Surgeon. Shortly after Matt’s episode, Karolyn started experiencing abdominal pain, tiredness and bruising. At first, she was reluctant to seek medical treatment, attributing the side effects to working two jobs and not getting enough rest.

Matt was insistent that Karolyn see a doctor and ended up taking her to the ER with extreme side pain on November 18, 2016. Dr. Dawn McCartney was the presiding physician and ordered multiple tests including blood work and a CT scan. Shortly after the results of the tests came back, Dr. McCartney delivered the unfortunate news that Karolyn had some form of lymphoma and would need to be transferred to Billings Clinic for further treatment.

Upon receiving the shocking news, Karolyn requested that her daughter, Claire Mayer, be notified before making any quick decisions. Claire, who is a social worker and per diem employee of Sidney Health Center, has experience working as the Cancer Care Navigator and a working relationship with the Billings Clinic Medical Oncologist, Dr. Jesus Fabregas. After visiting with Dr. Fabregas, it was determined that Claire could drive her parents to Billings and have Karolyn admitted to the hospital upon arrival.

Karolyn underwent further testing at Billings Clinic and received her first chemotherapy treatment six days later on Thanksgiving Day in Billings. Following her initial chemotherapy treatment, Karolyn transitioned back to Sidney, where she received outpatient chemotherapy at Sidney Health Center’s Cancer Care. During her treatment plan, Karolyn was in and out of the hospital four times due to a high fever and received a number of blood transfusions, making it impossible to continue working her full-time job in Sidney.

Although her employer kept her position until she was well enough to return, Matt and Karolyn experienced a significant loss of income during that time. The stress of managing their finances while undergoing cancer treatment created a ripple effect, like so many other families experience during challenging times. Thanks to funds donated through the Cancer Coalition Relief Fund, the couple was able to keep their heads above water financially.

I was in ‘awe’ by the support and generosity of strangers,” stated Karolyn, who is relatively new to the community. “Organizations, like the Richland Rangers Hockey Girls, the Richland County Sewing Guild and the Foundation for Community Care, all contributed gifts to assist in our time of need. Fortunately, Matt and I had a good outcome. We are extremely grateful to the community and feel compelled to pay it forward.

In discussing her treatment, Karolyn commented that her daughter, Claire, attended every chemotherapy session. “Claire brought a sense of calm throughout my treatment. She handled everything so professionally and added a level of communication that made me feel at ease,” added Karolyn. “I had the privilege of experiencing firsthand the quality of care that our Cancer Care team provides and am proud of Claire and the work she does.”

Since starting her own family, Claire transitioned to working per diem in May 2016 and occasionally fills in for the Cancer Care Navigator or Social Services. “Being a family member of a cancer patient has given me a much different perspective of the services offered through the Cancer Care department. I have a much bigger view of the role that everyone plays in their jobs and appreciate their willingness to go above and beyond for our patients,” noted Claire.

Karolyn is happy to report that she is cancer-free. She continues to have follow-up appointments to monitor the status of her lymphoma. In fact, Karolyn was able to take advantage of the mobile PET/CT imaging service that is now offered two days a month at Sidney Health Center, saving her an additional trip to Billings. “It is so convenient to have this service in town. I am able to go in for my scan and return to work shortly after,” stated Karolyn.

To assist area cancer patients, like Matt and Karolyn, the Foundation’s Cancer Coalition Relief Fund currently grants $1,000 to qualified applicants, limited to once a year per new cancer diagnosis. On average, the fund assists 40-45 cancer patients per year.  With the growing number of cancer patients receiving treatment in Richland County, there is an increasing need to keep this fund available.  The Cancer Coalition fund depends on gifts from donors in our community to keep making a difference in lives like the Schultzes’. 

To support someone fighting cancer in our area, please make a donation to the Cancer Coalition Fund here. You can also mail your gift or stop by the Foundation for Community Care office at 221 2nd Street NW, Sidney, MT 59270. 

For more information about the Cancer Coalition Relief Fund click here

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