Cancer Care Grant recipients announced

ALBANY, Ga. -- Cancer is no stranger to Southwest Georgia, which is why one area organization has just given $14,000 to support patients with the disease.

Grady County Help Agencies Inc., along with the four regional cancer centers, recently received funding under this year's Cancer Care Grant program from funds donated to the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition.

Officials at the Grady agency received $6,000, which will be spent to assist cancer patients with utilities, rent, medications and travel for medical appointments.

"This grant is going to make a tremendous difference in our ability to help our needy citizens affected by cancer," said Cindy Johnson, director of the organization, in a statement.

"Our mission is to provide emergency assistance to those in need as efficiently and fairly as possible. We do our best to help any Grady County citizen who is having an emergency situation, and having a special fund set aside for cancer clients will increase our ability to help ease that burden for so many more of those affected by the disease."

To date, $125,000 has been awarded to local community non-profits since the grants were established in 2006, which are designed to fund out-of-pocket expenses not covered by health insurance that would help cancer patients in their overall recovery process.

"Some of these organizations struggle because they have no capacity to apply for state or federal grants," explained Cancer Coalition CEO Diane Fletcher. "The organizations receiving funding submit a proposal and apply. There are mechanisms in place to make sure the clients are cancer patients in our 31-county region and that it (the money) is being used for out-of-pocket expenses."

The coalition provided grants of $2,000 each to the four cancer centers -- which included Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital -- to support the centers' cancer patient assistance programs.

"It's to help fill in some gaps," said Dr. Troy Kimsey, a surgical oncologist who practices at Phoebe. "In a tight economic times, any assistance helps patients get the care they need. Care of a cancer patient (requires) a multi-disciplinary team, so the patients that come here are all of our patients. This is one more thing that allows my patients to navigate the system.

"As a cancer center, we value the work the Cancer Coalition does. Their commitment to work with cancer centers is strengthened by this grant."

The three other cancer centers are Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta and Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton.

The funds from the grants are expected to be used within a year.