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One woman’s survival inspires hope and help for others

Patient’s own cancer battle leads to development of the Me Squared Cancer Foundation, supporting others in their journey

In 2018, Mimi Tran was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a fast-growing, fast-spreading form of cancer with a terrifying prognosis and limited treatment options. This wife, mother, community volunteer dynamo and private banker with a successful career put her life on hold to undergo lengthy, traumatic treatment involving prolonged chemotherapy, painful surgeries and intense radiation therapy.

Today she is in remission. Mimi considers herself lucky in that she had insurance and resources, along with family and a network of friends supporting her throughout her treatment and recovery.

During a chemotherapy session, as Mimi considered how difficult the journey must be for those not as fortunate in resources and support, she developed the idea for Me Squared Cancer Foundation, to help other warriors through their journey.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was born in 2019 to give newly diagnosed adult cancer patients hope and help through emotional, educational and financial resources.

The foundation has since assisted both male and female patients in all types of cancer treatment. While breast cancer makes up 40% of those helped, the foundation assesses all cancers to see where support can be provided. 

90% of those assisted have health insurance, yet out-of-pocket expenses can be thousands of dollars. As most patients are unable to work during treatment, Me Squared helps cover those costs.

“Even with insurance, it’s hard to make that large lump sum payment when you first enter treatment. That’s a gap that many other nonprofits don’t provide for,” says Nicole Reilley, Me Squared executive director.

Roughly 82% of those served make an income that’s 300% below the federal poverty line. For a family of four, that equates to around $78,600 per year. About 65% of patient households earn less than $52,400 for a family of four. 

Since 2019, the foundation has helped over 400 North Texas cancer patients with almost $1 million in financial assistance for medical costs, travel to and from treatment, and lodging if treatment is needed far from a patient’s home. Payments are made directly to treatment providers on behalf of the patient.

Me Squared is focused on the early part of the journey, Mimi says, “as it can have a tremendous impact on what lies ahead.”

While patients can apply for assistance through the Me Squared website, most referrals come from local healthcare organizations.

The foundation’s grant advocates work directly with patients and healthcare providers. With an understanding of insurance and the healthcare system, they offer both the financial and emotional support patients need, from the beginning and throughout their cancer journey.

Patient advocate leader Kelly Rose is one of the many Me Squared volunteers who gives freely of her time and experience. Most advocates have been through their own cancer battles or supported a family member through their journey, and their strength is in listening and being there for patients.

Chair and CEO Dave Stropes went through his own cancer battle and is inspired daily to reduce the stress and worry for those in similar situations, so they can focus on healing. In addition to Board members like Dave who provide their time, treasure and talent, Me Squared partners with organizations like the local National Charity League and SASO Southlake (Scholars and Athletes Serving Others) to provide Patient Caring Bags.

Me Squared relies mostly on volunteer support.

“Everyone involved has such a huge heart,” Mimi says, “and none of this can be done without them. It truly takes a village.”

Me Squared funding comes from grants, donations and special events. The organization’s largest annual fundraiser, the Black and White Gala, will be held at the Westin Hotel Southlake on March 2, 2024. Half a million dollars was raised at last year’s event. For tickets and sponsor information, visit https://mesquaredcancerfoundation.org/.

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