Lexington fundraiser aims to ease financial burden of patients with ‘Cancer of Many Colors’

Paulette Criscione, pictured with brothers Jay (left) and Richard (right), specifically created an organization that could benefit people no matter the type of cancer they have. (photo provided)

Paulette Criscione, pictured with brothers Jay (left) and Richard (right), specifically created an organization that could benefit people no matter the type of cancer they have. (photo provided)

Minor expenses can add up quickly for any household, but if someone has a growing pile of medical bills because of a long-term illness like cancer, small necessities can seem further out of reach than normal.

That’s where Cancer of Many Colors comes in to help.

Born out of multiple personal experiences with cancer, Cancer of Many Colors is the passion project of Paulette Criscione, sports marketing director for the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission. She founded the organization to meet the needs of people who are undergoing treatment as well as to provide relief for patients’ families.

“Everybody is touched (by cancer),” she said.

Criscione knows firsthand how a diagnosis of cancer can change an entire family dramatically. Not only has she received treatment for breast and lung cancer but her father and two brothers received diagnoses of their own. Her father, John, fought ductal cancer of the breast, while her brother Richard had leukemia. Her other brother Jay was diagnosed with cancer of the throat and bile duct. She and Jay had a genetic predisposition.

Criscione knew, with widely varied cancer stories in her own family, that any nonprofit she started had to be all inclusive. She thinks large organizations that bring awareness to well-known causes like breast cancer or lung cancer are vital, but she designed her fundraising to assist those with “many colors” of the disease.

“Before I leave this world, I wanted to make a difference,” Criscione said.

Cancer of Many Colors operates under the umbrella of the Lexington Medical Center Foundation and its Cancer Care Fund to send out financial assistance to local patients. Criscione’s eventual goal is to branch out from the foundation and expand Cancer of Many Colors to impact people whether they are Lexington Medical Center patients or not and supply funds for major expenses.

Local residents enjoy a night out at Cancer of Many Colors, a fundraiser for the Lexington Medical Center Foundation's Cancer Care Fund. (photo provided)

Residents enjoy a night out at Cancer of Many Colors, a fundraiser for the Lexington Medical Center Foundation’s Cancer Care Fund. (photo provided)

The fundraising of Cancer of Many Colors already has played a vital role in improving patients’ quality of life and alleviating some of their families’ financial strain. Criscione said the first two events raised approximately $50,000 for the Cancer Care Fund.

The third Cancer of Many Colors event is set for May 22. People will have the chance to enjoy live music, dancing and food, this time at a new location.

Family friend Trip Chalk has opened the doors of Private Property Restaurant, a new eatery in downtown Lexington, to Cancer of Many Colors and next week’s event will feature the New Orleans flavors that patrons have sampled on the restaurant’s menu. Chalk said hosting events and fundraisers is one of his primary goals for the business.

“We are going to aim to give back to the local community and not have a corporate atmosphere,” he said.

Every dollar given through a donation or ticket purchase will be put to use by the Cancer Care Fund.

Social services staff members with Lexington Medical Center work with families to lessen the burden when everyday needs become large obstacles to patient wellness as hospital and treatment costs mount. A few dollars here and there ensure patients have the ability to keep food on their table, can travel to doctor’s appointments and can purchase much-need medication.

“What good is the offer of life-saving daily radiation treatments if you can’t afford the gas to get there daily?” said Deirdre Young, manager for cancer programs at Lexington Medical. “These are the types of issues that cancer patients confront every single day … The Cancer Care Fund allows us to literally extend a lifeline to people who are drowning, who are going hungry, who are in danger of being without shelter or water or electricity because they are ill with some type of cancer.”

Stories shared by Lexington Medical Center nurse navigators, professional nurses who serve as guides to patients and their families, talk about how donations make a difference for people who need everything from a gas voucher so they can drive and get treatment to a few months’ rent so they can stretch their budget and take time off from work to have surgery.

“We have a gentleman in his 50s who had lost his job several years ago due to the economy and in the process he and his wife had lost their home. They were now living in a hotel room. Both he and his wife were once again working even though it was for minimal wages,” one nurse navigator said. “He was terrified of being without work becoming homeless again … (and) was avoiding necessary surgery because of the loss of income. The foundation paid for two months of his rent so that he could have his surgery and start his treatment.”

The mission of Cancer of Many Colors and the Cancer Care Fund is a serious one but Criscione wants guests at next week’s event to enjoy themselves. She has planned out an evening of music with The Catalinas and encourages people to network with others.

“The events are more awareness in the community (about Cancer of Many Colors),” she added.

Criscione is expecting about 300 people at Cancer of Many Colors’ third main event. More information about the organization, including how to purchase tickets to the event or to get involved in Cancer of Many Colors can be found here or by calling (803) 359-1312.

Categories: Hometown