Providing A ‘Sense of Security’ For Breast Cancer Patients When They Need It Most

by Julie Hayden

“I try to live normal, whatever normal is,” Christine Howard says matter of factly. That simple statement underscores the courage Howard packs into living every day with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. “I’m not a survivor, anymore. It’s gonna beat me. It’s an illness that’s going to kill me. I can’t say I’m okay with that but it’s a reality with me.” But Christine is not going down without a fight — for other breast cancer patients.

“I am very passionate about Sense of Security,” she exclaims. Howard devotes endless energy and time to the Denver-based charity. It gives direct support to breast cancer patients in treatment with $500 a month for six months to help pay for necessities like food, housing and transportation.

Over the past 15 years, Sense of Security has provided nearly $2 million to more than 1,300 Colorado breast cancer patients.

Howard is one of them, receiving the aid when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. “I felt a golf ball in my chest.” Howard started cancer treatment, working hard to keep her job. “I had decent health insurance but the bills were mounting up. No one budgets for cancer,” Howard explains. “I was under so much stress, I was just trying to keep my head above water.”

Then someone told her about Sense of Security.

“Sense of Security came in at the right time so I could get caught up,” Howard says. Executive Director Tim Taravella says Sense of Security was founded in 2000 by two women after they saw what a friend with cancer went through. “Our mission is to help the middle class,” Taravella explains. “Below certain income levels there are state and federal programs that can help. But there is no safety net for the middle class.”

Taravella says most Sense of Security grantees are in Stage 1 or 2 cancers and will successfully go through treatment to live full, vibrant lives. But he says the time they are undergoing treatment can be what he calls “financially toxic.” “Cancer is a ruinous disease financially,” Taravella says. “People are looking down the barrel of financial ruin because of cancer. Anyone who needs cancer treatment will face huge expenses and experience financial decline. Sense of Security’s mission is to stop that decline before they hit bottom. We do what we can to help them get through everything better, financially.”

Howard says Sense of Security provides something more. “It helps financially and that helps emotionally and by relieving the stress it also help patients recover faster.

It gives you that relief, “she adds, “It’s one thing that you don’t have to worry about and that trickles down and helps with overall relief and stress reduction.”

Taravella says Sense of Security is unique in that it is completely community supported. “We don’t get a dime from the gover

nment.” The organization’s major fundraiser is coming up September 16, 2017, at Four Mile Historic Park in Glendale from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Taravella describes the “Distinctly Colorado” event as a “un gala.” “Wear your jeans and boots, learn to fly fish, hit some balls at the golf simulator or take two-step dance lessons.” They raised $75,000 last year and hope to hit $100,000 this year. He says, “This fundraiser is crucial to help Sense of Security continue to help Colorado breast cancer patients.

Howard will be there and urges people, “If you want to help, give to Sense of Security.” She adds, “Just be good to each other. If everybody tried to be a little kinder to people every day, it would make such a big difference in the long run.”

For more information or to get tickets to the Distinctly Colorado event go to senseofsecurity.org.

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