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Floyd County Cancer Friends helps pay for the hidden costs of the disease

Floyd County Cancer Friends helps pay for the hidden costs of the disease
Contributed photo: In November of 2016, L&J Industries owners Lisa and Chris Garden, in blue, presented a $500 donation for the Floyd County Sheriff’s deputies’ No Shave November Fundraiser for Floyd County Cancer Friends. Pictured from left are Deputy Sargent, Lisa and Chris Garden, Deputy Shirley and Deputy Tiedemann.
By James Grob,

A cancer diagnosis is often a life-changing event, but thanks to advances in medical science and technology, no longer is it usually a death sentence.

Far too often though, a cancer patient’s financial situation can be a life sentence.

A cancer patient can survive the ordeal physically and have a full recovery, but even if he or she has exceptionally good health insurance, the hidden costs involved in fighting and surviving the condition can put a family in a temporary — or even perpetual —financial bind.

“It’s all the incidentals, the hidden costs you don’t realize you’re going to have to pay for,” said Jan Osier. “That’s why we’re here.”

Osier is a representative of Floyd County Cancer Friends, a group that helps Floyd County families afford non-medical costs associated with treating cancer, including things like travel, lodging and food costs, as patients seek treatment beyond county lines. All donations are used to provide monetary gifts to Floyd County cancer patients and their families. These gifts help pay for essential supplies and services not paid for by other means.

“It touches a lot of families. If you make a donation locally, you’re probably going to be helping someone you know,” said Osier, who has been working with the group for about 18 years now. “All it takes is for someone to call and say, ‘can you help me?’ We don’t ask for receipts, we don’t do anything, we hand over a check, or a gas card.”

The group was started in Charles City more than 30 years ago, with the simple idea of just helping people fighting cancer.

“At that time, it was to help women buy wigs. That’s how it first started,” Osier said. “Now, it’s more or less gas money, or a night in a motel, or something like that. There are funds available.”

Some people prefer just a gas card, and the group has a supply of those, too.

“Salvation Army bell-ringers hand gas cards over to us,” Osier said.

The group is supported solely by individual donations.

“One of the big donating groups is the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department,” Osier said. “In November, they do ‘No Shave November,’ and they collect money for that, and it is usually around $8,000 that they collect.”

Over the years, funds have also come from golf outings, raffles, and “Dance Against Cancer” and “Adult Prom” events that also serve to increase awareness. Osier said a motorcycle club donated money raised from a bike ride, churches might have special offerings and sometimes people will walk in off the street and hand over some cash, in memory of a friend who has passed away.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “We have an awesome community of people that donate.”

There are some parameters. Funding is for Floyd County residents, individuals or families impacted by cancer who actually live in Floyd County, not those who work here but reside in another county.

“They have to have a Floyd County address,” Osier said. “It’s not only Charles City, it’s Marble Rock, Rockford, Nora Springs, anywhere in-between.”

Many people are in a fortunate enough situation that they have a solid health insurance care plan, and their treatment is mostly covered, so they might feel like it isn’t right to accept a donation when the money could go to others among them who are less fortunate.

Osier said she understands and appreciates this, but she still encourages people to accept the offer.

“It still takes a hit in the pocketbook that you don’t expect,” she said. “We have a very loving community that wants to help people, and don’t feel that you shouldn’t ask, because that’s what we’re here for.”

The group also reaches out to help when they learn of a family in need.

“If we see in the Press that somebody is having a benefit, we automatically just send a check,” Osier said. “When you hear the the big ‘C word,’ the more support you have from family and friends — and even people you don’t even know — the better.”

Osier said that anyone interested in donating can contact her or Jan Jung at First Citizens National Bank in Charles City at 641-228-5315. That’s also the number to call if one is in need of funds.

Usually there is a follow-up call with one of the board members to find out the details. Osier said that most of the people on the board are cancer survivors, and can talk in more detail with someone who is in need.

“We just want them to know that we’re here for them, and we will do what we can to help them,” Osier said. “No matter what your circumstances, feel free to inquire about these funds so we can assist you.”