‘Angels’ group offers local support, help
MANISTIQUE – Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of woman across the United States, but you don’t have to travel far to find the disease – it’s right here at home. For those area women who are touched by the sometimes lifethreatening disease, there is support … in the form of “angels”.
Shirley’s Angels is a local branch of a larger 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in North Carolina, but it has local roots. According to the “Leader of the Sisters” Stacey Morrison, the organization began after her mother lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006.
Following her death, Morrison said her sister, Shannon Laatsch, founded Shirley’s Angels to pay tribute to their mother and to “do our part to eradicate breast cancer”. In 2011, Morrison was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and decided after her initial fight that she wanted to do her part for the organization.
“I thought, I really need to do something here, because people were so good to me,” she said.
Morrison then started what she refers to as the Shirley’s Angels “north”, which concentrates less on fundraising for research, as the “southern” group does, and more on support.
“My end is kind of survivorship,” she said.
Morrison said the group seeks out referrals in any way they can, but due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws, most breast cancer patients are contacted through word of mouth. Once the group obtains the name of a person diagnosed with the disease, they put together a “care package”, consisting of various items such as a blanket, pillow, survival booklet, jewelry, and items for hospital stays.
“People seem to really like that,” she said.
The diagnosed also receive a brochure filled with information and a two-page list of the area survivors, their diagnosis and contact information. From there, those with breast cancer may reach out to others who have or had the same diagnosis or treatments.
To fund the care packages, Shirley’s Angels hosts fundraisers such as a “pink” softball game in the spring and the “Dig for a Cure” volleyball game, which took place Wednesday.
Morrison said she wants residents to know where to turn if they are diagnosed with breast cancer – not only for the care packages and other support, but for the new monthly group meetings. These meetings, made possible through a partnership with Marquette General Hospital, feature a new speaker each month.
“They arrange the speaker, and then we teleconference in with them,” she said.
This month, Morrison said the group will be listening in on a presentation about the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Great” program. This program assists woman who have gone through chemotherapy and experience side effects, such as hair loss.
“They give them a wig, they teach them how to put their eyebrows on, and put their makeup on so they don’t feel so terrible,” Morrison explained.
The meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month in Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, which donates the room space.