Barbara Hague says a local cancer support organization has made a huge difference in her life.
Hague, who is battling breast cancer, had to quit her job at a local inn based on her doctor's advice. She filed for disability, but that didn't stop the bills.
The Bedford Cancer Foundation has helped Hague with about $850 in support to pay her rent payment and electric bill, plus buying gas to drive to her radiation treatments in Tullahoma, she said.
Finding the organization to ask for help was difficult, however. Just finding anyone at all to help was difficult.
"It was so hard, all the days I spent on the phone trying to get help," Hague said. "I kept getting referred around. I made a lot of phone calls. Every time I talked to someone I turned around and they gave me someone else's number."
Her hard work produced results, however, when she made contact with the Bedford Cancer Foundation.
The 3-year-old foundation is working to get its name out in the public more, said Kay Adcock, the board member who reviews applications for grants.
The foundation is a tax-exempt charity that helps cancer patients pay for non-medical bills and expenses. Applicants must be residents of Bedford County, Adcock said, and there is a $2,500 limit each year for an applicant.
Additional requirements to receive a grant include showing proof of income and presenting monthly bills and a copy of medical records.
"We want to help people with their struggles on a day-to-day basis, to relieve that stress," Adcock said.
The foundation has given more than $40,000 to approximately 25 people, sometimes helping the person more than once, she said. About half those donations were made in the past year.
The foundation holds two fundraisers a year, a horse show in the April to May period, and a 5k run in November, Adcock said. All money given to the foundation stays in Bedford County.
But the foundation is trying to raise awareness that it is available to help cancer patients, she said. Board members distribute brochures in doctors' offices and conduct advertising in local media.
"So many people still don't know we're here," Adcock said.
The foundation has a website, bedfordcancerfoundation.com, and a Twitter account: @bedfordcanfdtn.
Although the foundation has 16 board members, it is trying to increase the number of people who participate, Adcock said. You can become a member for $60 for year, or you can achieve a lifetime membership with a one-time donation of $200. Memorial donations are also welcome.
Such donations will allow the foundation to help more people like Hague.
"With me not working, I need help in getting these bills paid," Hague said. "When I spoke to Kay, she was great. She got right to me and she helped me get the funds for my rent last month."