Who We Are
Wings of Hope is a 100%-volunteer-run registered charitable organization that provides financial assistance to low-income breast cancer patients who are receiving, or have received, treatment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. This support includes assistance with basic day-to-day living expenses when financial resources are limited.
The costs of cancer are high, making the emotional and physical hardship of diagnosis, treatment and recovery even more difficult to deal with. Many breast cancer patients are unable to work during treatment due to side effects, including extreme fatigue. In addition, many medications and health supports required during treatment are not covered by health insurance. The combination of these elements can rapidly deplete financial reserves.
Wings of Hope was founded in 1995 when Calgarian Diana Kalef recognized a need among breast cancer patients for help with the cost of everyday living expenses and medication. What began out of a concern for family and friends who were living with breast cancer has evolved into a foundation that has helped hundreds of women in the community.
We provide funding for programs that ease the financial burdens and promote wellness for low-income people living with breast cancer in Calgary and the surrounding area.
The programs we currently fund provide direct and immediate financial support to low-income breast cancer patients for basic living expenses at very critical periods in their treatment and recovery.
We have raised almost $1,000,000 dollars over the past 5 years, and more than 95% of all proceeds are directed towards the local initiatives we support, ensuring we help as many people as possible.
Our Current Programs
Patient Financial Assistance Program (PFAP):
Wings of Hope has endowed the Alberta Cancer Foundation (ACF) with a gift of $680,000 (principal). The endowment generates investment income that is used by the ACF as a source of funding for its Patient Financial Assistance Program (PFAP). PFAP provides relief from the costs directly associated with cancer treatment and basic living costs during treatment.
Augmented Financial Assistance Program (AFAP):
In 2012, Wings of Hope recognized a need to augment ACF's PFAP and initiated the Augmented Financial Assistance Program (AFAP) to provide additional financial assistance to low-income breast cancer patients that have exhausted their PFAP benefits. This allows patients to continue to focus on their recovery. AFAP is funded and administered by Wings of Hope volunteers with the assistance of the social workers at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
Gift of Hope:
The Gift of Hope Program provides small gifts of personal items and much-needed gift cards for groceries and other basic needs to qualifying low-income breast cancer patients. The baskets are delivered around Christmas time each year and help to lift spirits during the holiday season – a time when funds are short, and when spirits can drop precipitously.
Our Past Programs
We are proud to have supported the following programs that ease the financial burdens and promote wellness for low-income breast cancer patients:
BEAUTY (Breast Cancer Patients Engaging in Activity and Undergoing Treatment) – a unique fitness and wellness program that has helped improve the quality of life for breast cancer survivors in Calgary and area.
Breast Cancer Supportive Care Foundation (BCSC) - funding from Wings of Hope enabled BCSC to offer several 12-week programs for individuals living with breast cancer to address a number of important topics, including Side Effects of Treatment, Dimensions of Recovery and Fear of Recurrence.
Tapestry Retreat Program – funding provided by Wings of Hope helped Tapestry provide 5 retreats for individuals living with breast cancer.
Brachytherapy Ultrasound Probes – in 2013, Wings of Hope provided funding to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for two ultrasound probes to be used for brachytherapy treatment for breast cancer patients. This treatment allows patients to have radioactive beads implanted, avoiding the need to return for daily radiation treatments.
Lymphedema Perometer: Wings of Hope funded a device (perometer) to increase the accuracy and decrease the time required to assess whether a breast cancer patient is responding to treatment from lymphedema, a common side effect of breast cancer surgery and breast cancer radiation treatment.
The Costs of Cancer
According to "Breast Cancer: Economic Impact and Labour Force Re-Entry: May 26, 2010" (a report from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network), 80% of the breast cancer patients surveyed in 2010 experienced a financial impact:
- 16% had their jobs terminated and 12% were unable to return to their previous job with the same title and salary
- 45% of respondents noted a reduced physical ability to work
- 44% used savings
- 27% took on debt
- 20% returned to work before they were ready because of financial pressure
- Those who had chemotherapy had a greater loss of household income and were 49% more likely to take longer than 16 weeks off work
These costs are why we help. Each year, we host an event -- usually a luncheon -- that is filled with both inspiration and a sense of purpose: to support our programs, which in turn support people in our community when they are at their most vulnerable.
We offer sponsorships to help defray the costs of the event, and also sell custom-designed jewelry to help raise further funds.
We also very much appreciate those who support us through donations, either from individuals or businesses in our community. No matter how you support our work, thank you for your generosity.