AP NEWS

A way to help local cancer patients

May 12, 2019

In my volunteer work with the SA Cancer Council, I meet people from all walks of life who are battling cancer, and it wasn’t until recently when I received an email from a social worker with Patient & Family Services at University of Texas Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center that I truly realized just how much of an impact our nonprofit has on those dealing with the disease.

The social worker, Carol Sherman, told me about a 39-year-old, single mother of two boys, ages 2 and 14, who is undergoing chemotherapy for metastatic melanoma. Understandably, she can no longer work. During Christmas, Carol gave her two gift cards provided by the SA Cancer Council to buy presents for her children. I was told she was grateful beyond measure for the love and assistance.

Stories like this reaffirm the significance of the SA Cancer Council’s mission: to raise funds for patient assistance and cancer research at the Mays Cancer Center, home of UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center — just as we did when we raised nearly $95,000 at our annual spring luncheon on April 10. To date, the organization has raised more than $5 million, which stays in San Antonio and is put to great use, thanks to countless donors.

This year, the SA Cancer Council celebrates its 35th anniversary, so I’d like to reflect upon the accomplishments of our all-volunteer nonprofit and share a few highlights with the community. To begin with, the organization was started in 1994 by a pioneering group of women, including the late philanthropist Edith McAllister, who had one goal in mind — to make a difference in the fight against cancer. The organization was formerly called the CTRC Council but changed its name to the SA Cancer Council three years ago.

We are particularly proud of a major achievement regarding funding for cancer research, specifically providing a $1 million endowment for the creation of the SA Cancer Council Distinguished Chair in Oncology. It was established in 2012 through an initial gift from the SA Cancer Council and subsequent gifts from various donors.

The endowment was created for the use and benefit of UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, with distribution supporting the academic work of a Distinguished Chair in Oncology, namely Dr. Michael Wargovich. A search is underway for a distinguished candidate to use $1.1 million available funds in the endowment for further research.

In terms of patient assistance, we manage a food pantry at the Mays Cancer Center, where our office is located. Volunteers go to the San Antonio Food Bank about once a month to stock our pantry and then provide a box of non-perishable food items for patients.

Additionally, because of the generosity of donors, funds were used to purchase two vans to transport patients to and from their chemotherapy treatments, for instance.

Already, one of the vans has seen better days, so we hope to purchase two new ones in the near future. New vans will allow us to expand transportation services outside Loop 1604 and serve the Stone Oak area.

We have found that getting to an appointment for treatment can be challenging for many patients.

We also fund clinical trials through our Circle of Hope program in which 10 couples donate $2,500 each for a total of $25,000. This is the seed money to launch the research process. If the hypothesis of the pilot study is found to be credible, then the research moves into the clinical trial phase.

The SA Cancer Council thanks the community for their support over the past 35 years to help us assist patients and to continue to raise funds for cancer research. We hope you will learn more about us at www.sacancercouncil.org and consider becoming a volunteer, too, to help us fight cancer in San Antonio. Or consider joining to make a difference in someone’s life.

Cheryl Wright is president of the SA Cancer Council.