Avera Medical Minute ASH: Helping ease the cancer burden - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute ASH: Helping ease the cancer burden

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Fighting back against cancer is no easy task but for some cancer patients, the cost of getting healthy can be an even harder burden to bear. That's where the Yankton community has stepped in. This small town by the river has shown that the kindness of strangers is bringing hope and healing.  

"10 more treatments, two weeks!" Exclaimed Don Benck.
Don sees the light at the end of the tunnel. This self proclaimed 85 and a half year-old is ready to beat cancer; again.

"Yes, four years ago I had lung cancer and I went through 35 radiation and for chemo treatments." Said Benck.

Being from Nebraska, it's a daily trip for treatments. But getting to Yankton is the least of Don's worries.  

"They have a terrific van service they come pick me up, bring me over, and take me home. Can't beat that!" Said Benck.

While Don does have friends and family willing to get him to treatment he says the transportation service simplifies everything.  

"You know when you have to go five days a week it's taking people away from their homes and jobs and it's not the nicest thing to have to depend on." Said Benck.

The van service is just one example of where the Avera Sacred Heart Foundation steps in to help patients focus on the most important thing, getting better.  

"You know if we can help ease their burden just a little whether that be not having to worry about transportation or where my going to stay or yeah I don't have any insurance, how am I going to pay for this? Then we are going to do that and thanks to our donors and community we can do that!" Said Frani Kieffer, the executive director for the Avera Sacred Heart Foundation.

The Foundation relies on donors to provide their services. The most recent fundraiser "Simply D'vine" proved to be simply amazing.   

"In a town of 1400 people we were able to sell out 500 tickets and 500 people came and we were able to raise $107,000." Said Kieffer. 

"Those funds have help pay for the drivers salary but most importantly it helped in buying a new van over the past year." Said Darla Gullikson, the director for the Avera Sacred heart Cancer Center.

Every penny stays in the community and provides for patients that wouldn't not be able to afford the care and services they need.  
Even in tough times, this community has stepped up to take care of those who need help.  

"It just makes you feel good and proud to go out there and say you know what Yankton the people here are awesome they take care of people who are within the community and of been here since lifelong community members but even those who have come with in the past month! it doesn't matter, we are going to take care of you." Said Gullikson.

For Don, that means a daily carpool so he can focus all his energy on beating cancer; for the second time 

"I guess you've got to have an attitude I've got I've got a great granddaughter and I go my goal is to see her graduate from high school and she's in the seventh grade so you're going to be there going to keep me for five years yet." Said Benck.

The Avera Sacred Heart Foundation hopes to use some of their funds to expand their preventative cancer screenings. Specifically to help those who are under-insured and may otherwise skip being screened. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.
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