MultiCare’s Helping Hands fund is a lifeline as Spokane couple navigates cancer journey
After receiving a cancer diagnosis, patients and families can become flooded with shock, fear, anger and sadness. Cancer can interfere with a family’s ability to work, causing financial concerns and adding to the stress of treatment.
“Of course, the financial impact has been huge, and it takes a lot emotionally, too,” says Jeff Painter, a patient with lymphoma at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital Cancer and Blood Specialty Center. “It’s a lot just to be able to make all the different appointments and scans and chemo and everything that they have scheduled for you. It takes a toll.”
“It’s just traumatic, really,” Jeff’s wife Kathy says. “I have ALS myself, so I’m not that well physically. And having to completely take over — it just consumes your whole life. It’s really exhausting, and you’re worried for your spouse’s life.”
At the MultiCare cancer center in Spokane, social workers like Theresa Rivera, BSW, help cancer patients like Jeff navigate their cancer journey and serve as a source of strength, care, support and hope for the entire family.
“Theresa has been great,” Jeff says. “She is always responsive, very clear on what she can help us with and looks up other resources. She’s the best.”
The couple met Theresa a little over a year ago. Their journey hasn’t been easy, with Jeff unable to work and Kathy making ends meet, all while fighting her own battle with ALS.
Theresa reached out to the MultiCare Inland Northwest Foundation to help the Painter family address transportation and nutritional barriers to care through MultiCare’s Helping Hands fund. Helping Hands is a special program, funded by community donations, that MultiCare social workers can use to help remove small barriers to a patient’s care and healing.
By providing Jeff and Kathy with Uber and Safeway gift cards, Theresa helped alleviate two major stressors for the couple and kept the focus on Jeff’s healing.
“I watched my wife having to run around and pick up all the ends that I’ve dropped, and the Uber cards, in particular, reassured me that we weren’t going to have to scramble and try to take buses or compromise my health in some way to get to appointments,” Jeff shares. “That was a miracle.”
The grocery gift cards have also helped the family purchase expensive Ensure supplements and groceries to counter Jeff’s protein deficit and weight loss from treatment. These made all the difference for him, as Jeff has gained more than 30 pounds back and has a lot more energy.
“After receiving the last two Safeway gift cards you sent recently, I honestly couldn't help but break down and cry,” Kathy writes in a thank you note to Theresa. “We were also able to pick up items we've put off for months, due to a lack of finances, and are thrilled to now have things like band aids, paper towels, shampoo and hair ties! It's the little things, you know?”
And to the donors who make the Helping Hands fund possible, Kathy can’t express her gratitude enough.
“They changed our lives,” she says. “They made things so much better and so much more manageable. For me, it’s just made all the difference in the world. I can’t imagine what we would’ve done without their help.”
From her social worker’s perspective, Theresa loves all that she can make happen through the donor-powered fund.
“Helping Hands is a marvelous opportunity to provide to those in need,” she says. “It blesses me to provide assistance, and the MultiCare Inland Northwest Foundation helps tremendously.”
You can help families like Jeff and Kathy’s overcome barriers to care and healing by giving to the Helping Hands fund.
About The Author
Shelby is a Senior Communications Specialist with the MultiCare Foundations department. More stories by this author