Fund helps with transportation costs to get to treatment

Kathleen Sutton lived in Edmonds prior to her death from breast cancer. Contributed photo.

Kathleen Sutton lived in Edmonds prior to her death from breast cancer. Contributed photo.

PORT GAMBLE — The Kathleen Sutton Fund helped more than 90 women get to and from cancer treatments in 2016.

The help added up to $77,000, raised primarily through the fund’s annual action.

This year’s auction is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Hood Canal Pavilion in Port Gamble. There will be a silent and a live auction. Prepaid tickets are $25 per person and $35 at the door. Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and beverages will be served.

To register, go to www.kathleensutton.org.

“There is no one I know who can say they do not have a friend or relative who has been touched by cancer,” board member Vivi-Ann Parnell said.

“Besides the physical and emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis, there are also numerous financial hardships. The objective of the Kathleen Sutton Fund is to assist the increasing number of women with cancer to defer transportation costs not covered by insurance. The ability to meet these needs is made possible by our community of donors, past, present, and future.”

The group suggests that donors think about their donations this way:

• $20 covers a trip to Tacoma for testing (gasoline and $6 bridge toll).

• $30 will pay for a round-trip ferry fare (driver and passenger) to Seattle.

• $75 will help a woman from Kingston get to her appointments for her clinical trial for breast cancer.

• $234.60 buys a Wave 2 Go pass.

• $300 will help a woman in Port Orchard get to and from seven weeks of radiation treatment in Bremerton.

• $600 pays for gasoline, ferry, and parking for a woman in Port Angeles to make 11 trips to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for her chemotherapy.

The fund is named for Kathleen Sutton, who died of cancer in 2004. Parnell was a friend of Sutton’s and drove her to treatments in Seattle. One day in 2003, they discussed the difficulty of paying for so much travel. Both women were involved in the local Susan G. Komen Foundation, but that day Parnell suggested organizing their own fundraiser.

“Instead of [the money] going to a big national organization, why don’t we keep the money here in our community and help women with breast cancer,” Parnell suggested to Sutton. “It was just spur of the moment.”

Parnell is a native of Sweden, which has universal health coverage.

Parnell wondered how women in the U.S. could or couldn’t afford to pay for their travel expenses on top of cancer treatment.

Parnell remembers that, soon after their conversation, Sutton had a bad dream — that she couldn’t afford to travel for her treatment anymore — and the next day they decided to try Parnell’s idea for the fund.

The first auction was in 2003 and raised $5,000. The goal this year is $65,000.

“Each and every dollar brings such a relief during such a difficult time,” Parnell said. “You make the difference.”

The Kathleen Sutton Fund is a nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. To learn more, go to www.kathleensutton.org. The fund helps women in Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson and Mason counties and can now be used by women who have any kind of cancer.

— Leslie Kelly is special sections editor for Kitsap News Group. Contact her at lkelly@soundpublishing.com.

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