By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Region – Just shy of a year old, the nonprofit organization, Pawsitively 4 Pink, has already made its mark raising $100,000 to support low-income breast cancer patients with mounting expenses that are not covered by insurance.
Michelle Power, CEO and founder of the organization, said the name is “a double entendre.”
“One of my passions is dogs. I know that when people hear anything related to dogs they…pause for the cause. Then I could educate them about P4P,” she noted.
Power was inspired to start the organization after she watched her mother, grandmother and friends undergo treatment for cancer and struggle with daily expenses that continued to add up while undergoing treatment and being unable to work.
“I was a practicing psychotherapist for decades when my mom became ill with pancreatic cancer three years ago,” Power said. “I dedicated myself to care for her full time. She worked at Shaws, did not have a lot of money and especially during this difficult time, I watched her suffer financial angst as well. She needed a hospital bed but was concerned about the cost of her electric bill, so she didn’t get one until the very end.”
Another close friend was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She underwent surgery and with bills piling up, she applied to several breast cancer organizations and was denied. She was denied because she elected to have the surgery, Power said, but her choice was not to have chemotherapy or radiation.
“I want to be an instrument for their voices so that these women can be heard,” said Power.
She was determined to help support these underserved women with things like rent, grocery bills, and pajamas and other comforts for their hospital stays.
“When the worry becomes about meeting your bills and not about your own personal health, you can’t heal,” said Power. “Massachusetts has the fourth-largest population of breast cancer. Worcester is one of the top cities with the poorest population. There are a lot of underserved women and we give assistance to these women regardless of whether they choose holistic or traditional treatment. No other organizations do that in New England,” she added.
To date, 10 women have been helped by Pawsitively 4 Pink.
“Over the past six years, I often had to make the decision to either pay for my treatment or my mortgage,” said Liz M. “Other charitable organizations have qualifying criteria that says one must receive chemotherapy and radiation, which doesn’t include me. What an incredible gift and relief it has been to have your financial support. I can pursue treatment that is best for me and I am profoundly grateful.”
“I am still in amazement at the generosity you showed me. Your gift of the grant and the food card have given me hope and lifted my spirits,” said grant recipient Sue W.
This year the organization will host its second annual Fundraising Soiree at Maironis Park in Shrewsbury on Saturday, April 4, from 6 to 10 p.m.
“Last year with over 300 attendees, we raised over $43,000…This year there will be dinner, music, speakers, raffles, silent auction and more.”
The group also hosts a golf tournament at Leicester Country Club, which last year raised over $23,000. This year’s tournament will be held there again, on Saturday, June 13.
And in keeping with the organization’s name, Power noted, “Twice a year we rescue a dog and have it trained to be an emotional support dog for a woman who has breast cancer.”
“My goal is to be the largest nonprofit organization for low-income, underserved women diagnosed with breast cancer with their needs,” she added. “At this time next year, I can’t wait to see where we are.”