Exeter Hospital Fund Saves Couple's Home. Now They Want to Give Back
By Karen Dandurant firstname.lastname@example.org @kdandurant
Posted Oct 15, 2020 at 12:56 PM
EXETER – Exeter Hospital’s 8th annual United in Wellness Cancer Walk & Trick or Treat Trot will follow a virtual format this year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Proceeds from Exeter Hospital’s Cancer Walk & Trick or Treat Trot 5K will still fully benefit The Beyond the Rainbow Fund, which provides direct aid to the hospital’s cancer patients in need.
One couple, Dan and Caroline Smith of Hampton, say they still have their home because of the Beyond the Rainbow Fund.
“The Beyond the Rainbow Fund provides financial relief for patients who may need help paying bills such as utilities, food, rent or mortgage,” said Eileen McDonald, Director of the Center for Cancer Care. “As we realize the economic impact of COVID-19, the need for financial assistance is increasing. We have cancer patients who are still struggling to pay bills; they may need childcare and transportation to attend treatment. The impact this pandemic has had on all nonprofits has been devastating and The Beyond the Rainbow Fund is no exception, but we are hopeful this event will help us continue to provide these services.”
From October 24-31, runners and walkers are invited to follow the event’s original 5K route, available on the United in Wellness website (www.unitedinwellness.org) or create their own. Results can be submitted with one click via the Strava app or entered manually on the race website. Halloween costumes are encouraged — there will be a virtual costume contest and top fundraising prizes awarded.
The Smiths recently shared their story in a three minute video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryrSMLnKIKM&feature=youtu.be).
Dan was going through cancer treatment and then, weakened by the treatment, had a stroke. A gift from the Beyond the Rainbow Fund paid a month’s mortgage at a crucial time and helped them keep their home.
Married on Valentine’s Day, the Smiths are a true love story. They will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary next year. Coincidentally, Dan ended up in the hospital on the eve of the holiday and their anniversary in 2019.
“Dan became very sick in January of 2019,” said Caroline. “He is a type 1 diabetic, and he was suffering from ketoacidosis. I did not know at the time, but he had been rationing his insulin because of the cost. We ended up in the emergency room and he immediately laid on the floor. They took him right in and he said he had pain between his shoulder blades. They did an x-ray and it turned out he had cancer all over his body. It looked like he was full of shotgun blasts.”
Caroline said Dan was started on immunotherapy.
“Unfortunately, the cancer had weakened the blood vessels in my brain,” said Dan. “There were a couple of lesions. After the first treatment, I had a stroke. I ended up at Northeast Rehab, with paralysis of my limbs.”
He is now walking a bit but has a long recovery ahead of him.
While all this was going on, Caroline learned that they were behind in major bills, like the mortgage, partly because people owed her husband money for his electrician business.
“I was terrified we were going to lose our house, that we were going to have to move in the middle of this,” she said. “While this was happening, nothing was getting done. And bills were not getting paid, and I began to hear from the mortgage company. I was approached by the Beyond the Rainbow people. I filled out a simple application and right away, they got my mortgage paid. It was amazing and went a long way relieving my fears about the bills so I could focus solely on Dan.”
Maddi Coons, oncology social worker at Exeter Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care, said the Beyond the Rainbow Fund expended $80,000 last year to help cancer patients and their families.
“We meet with the family and assess their needs,” said Coons. “We can help through our fund and we also point them in the direction of other resources that might be good for them to tap into.”
Coons said the Beyond The Rainbow Fund has been used to pay rent, mortgages, utility bills and car insurance.
“We help with utility bills, which can become very important in the winter months,” said Coons. “Bills can be an added hardship especially in the midst of cancer care. We can give gas cards to people who need radiation five days a week. We give grocery cards. With COVID-19 we are seeing people who have been laid off, or had a family member laid off, causing financial instability. We can offer hope.”
Dan’s cancer started in his kidney and spread to his lungs and liver, and to his brain. He was placed in oncology care.
Caroline wrote thank you notes, to Exeter Hospital and to others who had stepped up to help the family. When the Beyond the Rainbow staff approached the Smiths to tell their story to help advertise Exeter Hospital’s Cancer Walk & Trick or Treat Trot 5K, and the Beyond the Rainbow Fund, she said they were immediately on board.
“We are going to walk,” said Caroline. “We will likely walk around our block, as many times as it takes, but we will walk. As residents of Hampton, I really like that the beyond the Rainbow Fund was started by a Hampton woman.”
The Beyond the Rainbow Fund was founded in 2002 by Anne-Marie Viviano, a former Exeter Hospital patient. During her treatment for metastatic breast cancer, Anne-Marie met many individuals who were struggling with meeting expenses as a result of their diagnosis. Realizing the importance of relieving individuals of outside stress so that they could better focus their energy on healing their bodies and minds, Anne-Marie created The Beyond the Rainbow Fund. Anne-Marie died in May of 2009 after a courageous 14-year battle with cancer, but her vision to help others lives on through this fund.
Dan said he is currently “in training” for the walk.
“This story really is not about me,” said Dan. “It’s about helping raise money for this incredible fund that helps so many people.”
Caroline said Dan has good days and bad days. She said she is grateful for the advances in treatment that
saved his life.
“Five years ago, even, the prognosis would not have been so good,” she said. “They would have given him less than five years to live. Now we are hopeful for recovery.”
“We are excited to be able to move forward with one of our most popular events of the year,” said Dan Raposa, Director of Advancement, Exeter Health Resources. “We hope to increase the number of fundraising teams for this year’s event and our flexible virtual format is perfect for recruiting colleagues, friends and family members who can walk or run anywhere, anytime. We are hopeful the community will participate and come together to help us reach our fundraising goal.”
Foss Motors, CRs the Restaurant, and Bank of NH were recently named title sponsors of the Cancer Walk/Trick or Treat Trot. Additional lead sponsors include ClearChoice MD Urgent Care, Dunkin’ (Exeter, Hampton, Stratham and more), Carbon Agency, New England Picture, and Las Olas Taqueria. Additional sponsorships are available.
For more information about The Beyond the Rainbow Fund or to make a donation, visit unitedinwellness.org or call 603-580-6668. Online registration for the Cancer Walk/Trick or Treat Trot is available at runreg.com and unitedinwellness.org.