04/26/2009: "Funding Needed For Cancer Treatment Trips"
For a number of years transportation for those in need of treatment for cancer on the mainland has been provided for by local volunteers, and non-profit organizations. One of the early providers was a a volunteer pilot air transportation service on Orcas called Mercy Flights; which served as a model for a similar group, the San Juan Island San Juan Eagles. Both groups were organized to provide a transportation for those willing to fly to their cancer treatment services.
Soroptomists International Soroptomists International of Friday Harbor has developed a system developed a system for the volunteer flights of the San Juan Eagles, and ferry tickets for cancer patients on San Juan Island. They are active in local fund raising efforts to make these services available for San Juan Islanders with all types of cancers.
For the past 7 years San Juan County Health and Community Services Department has applied for and received grant funding from the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to assist women suffering with breast cancer with their travel expenses to obtain necessary out-of-county diagnostic and treatment services.
Women countywide have had access to ferry tickets and, in some cases, mileage reimbursement, for the frequent and costly trips to mainland treatment facilities. Services have included connections for peer support and referral to other information and support services for family members who usually served as drivers and emotional support for these trips.
Thirty-one women were served by this project in 2008. As of April 1, Komen for the Cure is not funding the countywide transportation project for 2009. The Health Department has notified current recipients that Komen and other funds donated for this project (such as personal donations and proceeds from Damien Stark's breast cancer swim) are running out.
A search for alternative sources of travel assistance funds for women with breast cancer from Orcas and Lopez is underway. For more information, contact SJC County Health and Community Services Department: JoAnne Campbell or Kathy Hagn at 378-4474