By Zandra Johnson
With fall in full swing, one thing we should remember is that October is breast cancer awareness month.
Sometimes if we look for silver linings in otherwise hard situations, it can help. If the situation is related to ourselves, a family member, or a friend, a positive perspective can help us get through hard times, cope, or be more understanding.
One silver lining that has been of great importance for people in our community diagnosed with cancer, is Wings. For these individuals and their families, living with cancer can be very difficult. Their lives can be filled with many questions and worries. For people looking to build their support system, Wings offers help.
Wings is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping with out-of-pocket costs for expenses related to cancer treatment. Committed to our community, including Lincoln, Flathead, and Lake counties, they help many people in northwest Montana.
Wings provides funding for meals, housing, and transportation needed to travel to and from treatment for those who qualify. If treatment is located outside of the state, Wings is still able to provide assistance. Since 1997 they have raised over two million dollars for local families battling cancer. The organization is run on an all-volunteer basis, and the many fundraisers that take place are run by volunteers as well. Their volunteer led efforts make the accomplishments of Wings even more incredible, a silver lining. A group that cares; that people can turn to in their time of need.
Cancer affects many, all over the world, in one way or another. There are people fighting for their health and lives all over, including right here. According to breastcancer.org, about one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. As of January, 2018, there are over 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women who have completed treatment and those who are currently undergoing treatment.
A woman’s risk nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, approximately 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history.
Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women in the U.S. If you have any concerns for yourself or want to know more about your risks you should speak with your medical provider.
One local survivor who knows Wings’ impact first hand shared her story with The Montanian. Cindy Johnson, though cancer free for eight years, still finds time to give back to the organization that helped her. Johnson attends local Wings fundraisers every year to help support the cause. In addition to Johnson leaning on friends to help her through treatment, Wings assisted her by providing financial aid.
“Wings really helps people. They are very efficient and they are all very helpful,” Johnson said. “I’m glad we have Wings for all the people that need gas, food, and motels. They’ve helped so many cancer victims in so many ways.”
The 5th annual local Wings fundraiser walk was held Sept. 15 in the Yaak. Many participants and volunteers gathered in the Yaak to walk and raise money for this worthy cause. To date, it is reported that the event raised over $7,650.
Our community is a better place thanks to all of the people that donate and volunteer for Wings. If you wish to make a donation or to apply for assistance, visit wingsnwmontana.org.
A group of participants stop to pose for a fun photo during the Yaak Wings Walk that was held on Sept. 15.