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Around Our Town...Making a Difference – Angels Program

04/01/2005 - "My world fell apart last June when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of a summer vacation with my husband and sons, 8 and 9, attending major league baseball games in several east coast cities, I had a mastectomy, began seven weeks of radiation, three months of chemo and evenually had a prophylactic mastectomy. At different times during this treatment, I doubted my own survival." These thoughts could come from just about any cancer patient receiving this terrible diagnosis. Today, Becky Mothersbaugh, recent cancer patient and survivor is finding new hope after her year long battle with breast cancer.

"During these many months of both fear and hope, I met many innumerable legions of loving, caring and knowledgeable survivors and caregivers. One of these was Janet Smith, Women's Care Coordinator and director of the Community Cancer Resource Center." "I cried the first time I went to the CCRC. It was hard to believe that I was in a room surrounded by cancer books, hearing medical terms, and learning about months of standard treatment, all the while wondering if I'd live that long."

According to Smith, the Community Cancer Resource Center has been here for the last five years and because of the special needs of newly diagnosed patients, the Angels Program was created. These angels are a group of dedicated volunteers who are available to help patients deal with the physical, emotional and mental challenges of cancer therapy. The free services provided range from delivering home-made meals, supplying wig/beauty products, helping with household chores, to finding much needed financial resources.

Becky recounts "I met a whole group of Angel volunteers who brought my family dinners, cookies and flowers during the worst days of my chemo. My first Angel, Jennifer Doyle, was a fellow baseball mom with a newborn, she always took the time to offer encouragement, send cards, or offer her services. I had the honor a few weeks ago to perform at the Seven Daffodils concert, an event directed by the inspirational Diane VonGunten of Our Saviours Luthern Church in honor of the gifted and coureagous women who have battled cancer." For the CCRC patients, it doesn't take long to want to become involved and give back hope.

"The resource center introduced me to a network of other survivors who provided me with an instant support group. The bond between cancer patients is immediate and intense, we all need to hear other stories of survival, and have our own stories heard. We spent many hours laughing and crying during all phases of our treatment, and that friendship and support was so important to moving on to life after cancer" Mothersbaugh said.

"Cancer has taught me that every moment matters, because tomorrow could be very different. I wake up every day thrilled that I'm well, and that I get another precious day with my family. Thank goodness that Casper has such a treasure in this Center, where patients can go and not feel alone in their fight against cancer. I would have been lost without the hope and support offered there. Its existence is vital to our recovery."

Also, Becky would like to thank her doctor heroes, the wonderful survivor friends she has made, the friends, students and colleagues who offerered so much of themselves and mostly, "my husband Jim for holding my hand through this unwanted journey and believing in my recovery. Life truly is good, every second of it."

Smith notes that in its first five years, the CCRC celebrates achieving these milestones;

Since it's inception, 400+ patient's and families have been part of the Angel program.

Estimated $300,000 in donated services, meals, special events, gifts, and financial help for patient's.

Our volunteers number over 300 – from those who have had cancer in the past, to those that simply want to make a difference in someone's life.

The Community Cancer Resource Center was the 2003-2004 winner of three first place Regional VHA awards for: Improving Clinical Effectiveness, Improving Community Health, and Improving Operation Performance.

The three awards given to the Community Cancer Resource Center is a first in VHA Mountain States history; a truly prestigious honor!

If you wish to become an Angel volunteer or need services, please call Janet Smith at 577-2971.

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