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Cancer losses fuel a Charlotte County family’s efforts to help other patients

Aug 16, 2021

Barksdale Cancer Foundation Logo Image courtesy: Barksdale Cancer Foundation

Wendy Lankford remembers her family’s dark days with cancer. It is behind her determination to now offer light to patients dealing with their own diagnosis.

In 1999, Lankford’s mother started Barksdale Cancer Foundation (BCF) with other loved ones after losing three family members to cancer in a four-year period. They realized there were few resources in rural Charlotte County and founded the nonprofit to offer one-time financial support to cancer patients in active treatment.

“That was my Mama, she was a Barksdale, and the others seeing the needs and wanting to help,” said Lankford, the current BCF president. “You know how you get to talking with other people about what you went through? It was that.”

BCF eventually connected with the VCU Massey Cancer Research and Resource Center (CRRC) in Lawrenceville when it opened in May 2013.

“That was a huge benefit to us because we had resources through that center that we didn’t have before,” described Lankford. “They had brochures on particular cancers. We can get [patients] wigs, prosthetic bras and things like gas cards.”

BCF worked with the CRRC to develop a brochure about transportation options for patients living in the rural area. Traveling to appointments continues to be a challenge for many of the patients served.

“One of the best things that ever happened for our patients is the Massey radiation center in South Hill [at Community Memorial Hospital]. It is such a blessing,” said Lankford. “Not having to drive an hour or more for treatment really makes a difference.”

Lankford said the organization is working to find partners for a program to compensate Charlotte County patients for their active care-related travel expenses, which can be extensive.

“We increased our grants last year, trying to help patients with gas, but that doesn’t work if they don’t have a car,” Lankford said. “In between raising money, we’ve been looking at how we can get them to their appointments, provide a ride. We had been doing that but had to stop because our insurance didn’t cover it. There has to be a way. We hope to find someone who can work with us.”

In the meantime, BRC will continue offering patients $1,000 grants to spend on gas expenses or to cover other costs like food and home heating.

“All the money raised in Charlotte County stays here,” said Lankford. “They can do whatever they want to do with it at their discretion.”

Written by: Amy Lacey

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