Emily’s Gift Cancer Fund gives back to patients

Pictured with the Emily’s Gift donation cabinet are Riverwood Infusion Center nurses Patty Perrella (left) and Lisa Old (right) with Riverwood oncology coordinator and nurse practitioner Jan Hegman (center).

A cancer diagnosis can often lead to financial hardship.

That’s why Riverwood Foundation of Riverwood Healthcare Center is introducing a new fund to offer cancer patients some one-time assistance with living expenses.

The Emily’s Gift Cancer Fund began with a student in Aitkin whose heart went out to those undergoing cancer treatments.

As a high school senior, Emily Harmon was challenged to create a project to make a difference in her community. Each year, Harmon and her family attended the Relay for Life walk to show support for her grandfather, a lung cancer survivor.

Inspired by hundreds of luminaries representing lives touched by cancer, Harmon decided she could make a difference by raising money for the oncology department at Riverwood Healthcare Center. The funds Emily raised were used to purchase gas cards to help cancer patients undergoing treatment with travel expenses.

“The Emily’s Gift Cancer Fund is here to help our cancer patients,” said Jan Hegman, nurse practitioner and oncology care coordinator. “This is one more service Riverwood can offer to help patients navigate their journey with cancer and the road to recovery.”

Riverwood cancer patients undergoing treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, who are in need of financial assistance to pay living expenses, may apply by filling out an application form. Payments are not made to individuals, but rather directly to the vendor where payment for a bill is due.  Examples include a mortgage or rent payment, child care expenses, a car payment, etc. This is a one-time only gift, not to be used for ongoing expenses.

The confidential application will be reviewed by a foundation committee for approval. Names of applicants and recipients of financial assistance will remain anonymous.

“Emily’s Gift started with one young woman’s compassion for others,” said Katie Nelson, Riverwood Foundation director. “Since then, it has grown to become a designated cancer fund for helping to relieve the burden of daily living expenses for cancer patients undergoing treatment at Riverwood Healthcare Center. We welcome donations to this fund from anyone wanting to support this wonderful cause.”

The Emily’s Gift application form is available from Riverwood’s Oncology Department. For an application or questions, call 218-429-3975. The form is included in an information packet for new cancer patients at Riverwood.

Riverwood will place an Emily’s Gift display cabinet to collect donations for the cancer fund at different community locations, starting at Riverwood’s pharmacy at Paulbeck’s County Market. The cabinet features a backpack, representing the high school student who raised funds for cancer patients.

To make a donation to Emily’s Gift, send gifts to Riverwood Foundation, 200 Bunker Hill Drive, Aitkin, MN 56431, or contact Riverwood Foundation at 218-927-5158.

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