Benefit to aid cancer battle

FAIRMONT – There’s nothing like love from your hometown. At least that’s what Shannon (Poppe) Gilbert is learning.

“We just want her to know she has support at home,” said Sharon Chavez, a longtime friend of Gilbert.

A 1988 FHS graduate and daughter of Brian and Renee Poppe, Gilbert is recovering from breast cancer in Colorado, where she lives with her husband, Steve, and their teenage daughter.

“I found a lump and went to the doctor in June,” Gilbert recalled. “They did a biopsy and confirmed it was cancer.”

Gilbert had surgery in July, and doctors learned then the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. She underwent six treatments of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments. While she finished the treatments in March and her PET scan after surgery came back clean, there were still several hurdles.

“It was the first time in my life that I didn’t have PPO insurance,” Gilbert said. “I’d been laid off from my job and was doing contract work. We had to decide who in the family should be insured because we were paying it out of pocket. My husband is self-employed and we have a daughter in high school that plays sports. I hardly ever used it, and the time I’m not covered, I injured my foot and I got cancer.”

Without insurance, the hospitals advised she would need $7,000 to $14,000 to have surgery for her breast cancer. But then she received help.

“My name had filtered through the doctors in Denver, and it got to the Susan G. Komen Foundation chapter in Denver,” Gilbert said. “They contacted me and got our financial information, and we qualified to have everything covered. They paid for everything; the financial setbacks could have been so much worse. We could have lost the house, lost everything. … The treatments themselves were about $100,000.”

In addition to the financial pains caused by the cancer, Gilbert has also dealt with the physical pain that can accompany the treatment, particularly from the chemotherapy administered by IV.

“It began eating through my veins and scarred my arms,” Gilbert said. “They tried using more saline before and after and it made it even worse. It was like my arms were being eaten from the inside out. … I covered up the scars with a ‘Survivor’ tattoo.”

She still has to pay for maintenance and her medications, and the family still has financial setbacks from her cancer battle. Plus, she was unable to visit her Minnesota family and friends during treatment.

“We try to come home once a year, and we couldn’t come back at Christmas this year because I was finishing treatment,” Gilbert said. “But we’re coming back for the benefit.”

The benefit for Gilbert’s family will start at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Welcome Legion. The event goes all evening, with a silent auction and meal and karaoke beginning at 8 p.m.

“I know everyone there’s been working really hard on it,” Gilbert said of the benefit. “It means so much.”

“We wanted to do something to honor her, because she’s been through so much this year,” Chavez said.

Gilbert stated that they want to donate some of the funds raised back to the Denver chapter of the Susan G. Komen foundation.

“We just want to get back on our feet, and then donate back to the foundation, because what they did was nothing short of a miracle,” Gilbert said.