KINGWOOD – Since October 2017 Friends Thru Cancer has helped 30 people across Preston County.
The nonprofit organization helps people with expenses that go along with their cancer diagnosis.
Heidi LaRue, representative of Friends Thru Cancer and a nurse practitioner at WVU, said there are no income or age guidelines. The program is available to any cancer patient in Preston County.
She said so far $5,000 of gas cards have been distributed. LaRue said many of the recipients required multiple gas cards due to traveling for weeks to radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
“We’ve provided 10 cases of supplements, paid for hotel expenses for an individual that needed to stay in Morgantown and aided an individual who needed help paying for medical insurance while off work for treatments,” LaRue said.
Dee Hartman said she doesn’t know what she would have done without Friends Thru Cancer.
“I believe it’s a fabulous program,” she said. “My husband has stage four stomach cancer and without them we would have frozen this winter.”
Hartman said the only source of heat she and her husband have is a wood stove.
“I have to have to have a heart [catheter], so I couldn’t start the log splitter or carry the logs to it,” she said. “They came over, cut wood for me and my husband, carried it in and stacked it in the basement.”
LaRue said with the help of other Preston County organizations the group has been able to provide durable medical equipment and wigs. They also provided an individual with dressing supplies which were needed for daily dressing changes.
“I was surprised at the number of women in Preston County who have cancer,” Ruby Moats-Kempher said. Moats-Kempher was talking after a meeting that had LaRue as a speaker.
“It was very uplifting for me.” Moats-Kempher said she lost her hair due to cancer treatments.
“They (Friends Thru Cancer) gave me two wigs. I have had many people comment on how much they changed my looks.” Moats-Kempher said she wears her wig when she goes to church and shopping.
LaRue said the idea to start Friends Thru Cancer came from a nonprofit program in Garrett County, Md.
“That program is called Cindy’s Fund. I heard patients talking about how wonderful it was,” she said. “I reached out to the person who oversees Cindy’s Fund and she told me how to get started in Preston County.”
LaRue said through her work as a nurse at she saw cancer patients from Preston County who needed help. “That’s what motivated me,” she said.
Donations to Friends Thru Cancer can be mailed to Heidi LaRue, P.O. Box 58, Kingwood, WV 26537.