Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care Sees Far Beyond Medical Needs

Abigail Strube, WFCC Executive Director, with her mom, Cathy.

Last year Abigail Strube’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

And that’s when they both came to know volunteers from the Angels Care Cancer Program, a Casper-based organization that’s part of the Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care (WFCC).

In fact, it was an Angel who suggested Abigail apply for her current job.

“WFCC is all about reducing the burden of cancer,” Abigail said.

And that translates to helping patients and families with non-medical needs that accompany treatment.

Help Beyond Medical Care

“We sometimes pay utility bills.

“We’ve even made mortgage payments,” Abigail said.

“We give gas cards, and this past summer a patient who needed to travel for a much-needed surgery had unsafe tires, so we just bought new ones for her.”

A large portion of WFCC’s budget goes to paying hotel bills.

Because of vast distances between Wyoming towns, people seeking cancer treatment must often travel hours for care.

It’s is all about reducing the burden of cancer.

WFCC Board of Directors includes (front row) Abigail Strube (ad hoc), Kara Frizell; (back row): Angie VanHouten, Michele Nash, Dr. Robert Tobin, and Sam Carrick (ad hoc)

More than 12 years ago staff at Rocky Mountain Oncology in the mid-state city of Casper saw patients struggling at home with non-medical needs.

So they considered how best to help.

The result was a grass roots organization as an arm of the large Tennessee based eplus Cancer Care foundation.

Then in 2018 WFCC received its own 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

Until recently funding came 100% from community donations and grants from individuals.

And now as they extend their reach to more of Wyoming and are eligible for federal grants, efforts are underway to grow the current $50,000 budget.

It’s about supporting patients and families with the non-medical needs that accompany treatment.

In 2017 more than 206 people state wide were served, and this year 176 patients have already been helped.

And the only eligibility requirements are that applicants be Wyoming patients currently undergoing treatment.

Partnering with Hands-On Care

When WFCC merged with the Angels Cancer Care Program more ways to offer non-medical support were possible.

That’s because many of the volunteers have, themselves, gone through cancer treatment.

“They know how to help make the stress of chemo more bearable,” Abigail said.

“Volunteers may sit with patients going through treatment, assemble cancer care kits, and drive patients to appointments.

“They have even put together teams to do house cleaning,” she said.

“In Wyoming we are proud to take care of our own.

“We believe in the spirit of the west and supporting cancer patients in our communities who are in need,” she said.

As for her mom, Abigail reports, “She’s 10 months out of treatment and doing really well.”

Take Action!

•  Read more about Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care

•  Donate to WFCC. Every small donation has a big impact.

•  Review Preventing Alzheimer’s and Slowing ALS: The Focus of Jackson Hole Medical Non Profit.

• Read Climb Wyoming where efforts to end the cycle of single-mom poverty in Wyoming are effecting change.

•  Read about a daughter who helped her mom live fully to the end of her life.

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Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. She is a HeartMath Certified Trainer and Coach, and certified through HeartMath to administer the Stress and Well-being Assessment tool; A Connection Practice Trainer, a Trainer’s Trainer, and Coach; and a Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (RCST®). Her website is EllenSynakowski.com.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West



Climb Wyoming Breaking Multi-Generational Single Mom Cycle of Poverty

In a state like Wyoming where poverty is pervasive19 and often invisible,20 permanently interrupting the multi-generational cycle of impoverishment for single moms is a big goal.

Yet one woman at a time the chain is being broken at Climb Wyoming.

Reaching the top of the stairs in the Laramie office, I could have been entering an urban law firm or a boutique medical suite.

“Poverty can inhibit executive function, so by providing resources, counseling, life and communication skills, our moms are supported in becoming successful.” — Katie Hogarty

“The setting is intentional,” said Katie Hogarty, Climb Wyoming program director and lawyer by training.

“We want our space to mirror the environment our moms will be working in.”

Twice a year groups of women move together through the program, and on average 130 will graduate from six sites throughout the state.

“So much magic happens when the women are together,” Katie said.

“Poverty can inhibit executive function,21, 22 so by providing resources, counseling, life and communication skills, our moms are supported in becoming successful.”

“People can say, ‘Just put one foot in front of the other,’ but if you’re not practiced at knowing your priorities and how to get form a to b to c, you feel stuck — you’re just spinning.”

Katie Hogarty, Climb Wyoming program director in Laramie.

Remarkably, graduates typically double their pre-program wages, and the up-front investment yields tangible savings for the state of Wyoming.

And the business model of lean site offices supported by experts at the headquarters in Cheyenne permits Katie to stay focused on what she loves.

“I just want to be working with these moms,” she said.


Take Action!

•  Watch a short Climb Wyoming video intended for the women they serve. “This is a judgment-free zone.” “You’re amazing, mom.” “You already have your gifts inside of you.”

 •  Donate to Climb Wyoming

•  Read about Hole Food Rescue in Jackson and community and school gardens supported by Rooted in Wyoming in Sheridan.

• Check out Columbia University’s statistics on Wyoming at the National Center for Children in Poverty

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski lives in Laramie, Wyoming.
Her website is EllenSynakowski.com

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.1  — C. West