SHARON SNELL of the Dean Snell Cancer Foundation holds a brochure about her organization. Snell began the foundation with her six children after losing her husband, Dean to cancer. This weekend, the foundation will host a golf tournament fundraiser at Brunswick Golf Club.

SHARON SNELL of the Dean Snell Cancer Foundation holds a brochure about her organization. Snell began the foundation with her six children after losing her husband, Dean to cancer. This weekend, the foundation will host a golf tournament fundraiser at Brunswick Golf Club.

BRUNSWICK

The Dean Snell Cancer Foundation is preparing for its biggest fundraisers of the year — the annual golf tournament and the “Thanks for Giving” gala dinner.

The seventh annual golf tournament, which is open to all ability levels, will be held Saturday at the Brunswick Golf Club on River Road.

The dinner will be held Nov. 5 at the golf club as well, featuring a silent and live auction, live music and a cash bar.

Sharon Snell lost her husband, Dean, to aggressive esophageal cancer in 2009 after a 15 month battle. Three months later, still reeling from Dean’s death, Sharon and her six children established the Dean Snell Cancer Foundation.

Snell said the family decided to partner with New England Cancer Specialists in Brunswick where Dean had received his treatments. She said she came to know a lot of patients there through her husband’s treatments and realized many patients were struggling with daily needs.

“What we do basically is help patients who are at the New England Cancer Specialists with whatever types of needs they have. Obviously the first thing that came to our mind was prescription medications, co-pays, which can be varied amounts, and then travel,” Snell said.

Snell said her family was well aware of the cost of travel, with consultations at Dana Farber and what they hoped would be life-saving surgery at Bringham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Food, fuel, tolls and 11 nights in a hotel added up quickly. Snell said that although the family had great insurance, it was all the incidentals that came with cancer that piled up expenses.

Snell said fundraising has been brisk, with three grants totaling $32,000 in less than a year. Late last fall, the foundation received a Senter Foundation grant for $7,000 earmarked for food.

“So with that, additional food cards. A couple of months, we were able to help some families that were in deep crisis with doing groceries for a full month,” Snell said.

Snell said the grant has also allowed them to increase their Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets from 20 to 25 this year.

For a fifth year in a row, the foundation received Maine Cancer Foundation transportation grant in the amount of $15,000 as well as a $10,000 unrestricted grant from the John Gorman Foundation.

In addition to the success of the foundation’s grants, Snell said she was approached by a group of women from Bath who were interested in putting on an event to support the foundation.

Snell said last week the women met at Mae’s Cafe in Bath for a live auction. Between the auction, a raffle and donations given that evening, Snell said the women raised over $7,000.

“I don’t think there was anyone who wasn’t touched,” Snell said, “it’s just amazing to see how many people have been touched by cancer — so many people there that had had experiences — from a family who lost loved ones and those who are fighting it now.”

To date, the Snell Foundation has helped more than 300 families. In the last fiscal year, 58 patients from 25 area communities.

“We can be that vehicle that helps when it’s really needed — it’s just huge,” Snell said.

Snell said sometimes help is necessary for several months at a time for various reasons. Sometimes the patient cannot work or their caregiver has to work fewer hours to care for the patient.

Some insurance companies also have high deductibles in the range of $5,000 or $10,000 — money most people can’t simply come up with on the spot. Snell said even if someone has money saved, it doesn’t take much to put them in a tailspin.

“A lot of times the nurses or a financial advocate will hear stories of “right now.” Or the doctor wants me to get Boost or something like that and I just can’t,” Snell said.

For those cases, the foundation has placed $30 emergency food cards at the cancer center for the financial advocate to distribute at their discretion.

Last week was the seventh anniversary of Dean’s death and this Sunday is his birthday. In less than seven years, the foundation has given out almost $300,000 in direct aid.

“We anticipate that the two of those will bring $35,000 to $40,000 and so this year we anticipate that this will be half of the aid we can do for patients — at least half,” Snell said.

Anyone wishing to sign up for the golf tournament can do so via the Dean Snell Cancer Foundation website.

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