“Cancer Gas Cards, Inc. was conceived four-and-a-half years ago on a wing and a prayer,” said Shirley Brown, President of the local non-profit organization. “Having cancer is hard, but getting to your treatments doesn’t have to be,” added Brown about the goal of the program.
While volunteering at the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Resource Center, Brown saw first hand that people in Monroe County were struggling with getting to their treatments. Due to the decline in the economy, some cancer patients were even forced to choose between treatments, utilities and sometimes even food. This was totally unacceptable to Brown.
Brown, Sandy Barnes and Sheila Martin put their heads together and came up with a program that would provide gas cards to cancer patients who were traveling to chemo and radiation treatments. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they knew the program would work if they could just get it started.
They knew they were in way over their head. The trio researched online about criteria for starting a non-profit organization. “It scared us to death, but we did it” said Barnes. However, they soon realized they needed a lot of advice on how the program was to function.
The women sought the advice of Dr. Jondavid Pollock, Radiation Oncologist at the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital. Dr. Pollock not only gave great advice but agreed to be president of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Pollock, who has several cancer patients from the Monroe County area, was very excited about the gas card program and encouraged the women’s efforts.
It was a slow start, but with the help of Woodsfield attorney Dick Yoss and his staff, the organization was off its feet. Though it was on its feet, the beginning steps were shaky.
“It’s hard to imagine that we started this program with just $100,” said Brown. She added, “We ran out of money in the beginning and had to borrow some money from my husband.”
From then on out, volunteers for Cancer Gas Cards started doing all kinds of fundraisers. They also got much support, in the form of monetary donations, from family and friends who believed in the program and those running it. Soon, news of the gas cards program was getting around, and the group starting helping more and more cancer patients.