“Remember what Henry Ford said, ‘Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.’ I thought I could and I did,” says Molly MacDonald, Founder and CEO of Pink Fund, a nonprofit breast cancer charity headquartered in Bloomfield Hills.
Unlike many organizations focused on breast cancer, Pink Fund does not raise money for research. “We also are not a mental and emotional support organization, although patients tell us just how much our financial support provides relief and hope,” notes Molly. Instead, Pink Fund aims to support breast cancer patients by easing the financial burdens that unfortunately accompany a diagnosis all too often. Pink Fund provides 90 to 180 days of non-medical financial assistance by making payments to a patient’s creditors for housing, transportation, utilities, and insurance, and to date has provided over $6.5 million in assistance. Considering that 50 percent of bankruptcies are the result of illness or illness-related job loss, this help can be life-changing.
Molly was inspired to start Pink Fund from her own experience with breast cancer. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2005 at a time of job transition. I did not feel I could ethically begin the new job as planned without informing my new employers of my diagnosis. We all agreed it was not the best time to start a new job.” Unfortunately, this meant that Molly was unemployed, and unemployable, during the six months of treatment she needed for her cancer.
“While my early-stage disease was unlikely to take my life,” says Molly, “it did take my livelihood.” Molly found herself without her income and with the addition of $1300 per month in COBRA insurance premiums. “Our family experienced what in 2013 was coined ‘financial toxicity’, a devastating side effect of cancer treatment where patients are forced to make impossible choices between things like paying the mortgage or paying for the medicine. Our home was threatened with foreclosure and the leaseholder on my automobile was calling every 58 days to ask if I was planning to make a payment or should they plan to repossess my vehicle. By August I was at risk for utility shut-offs and by September, when treatment was finished and friends stopped delivering dinner, I was forced to use a local food bank to help feed my family.”
In addition to her own experience, while in treatment Molly met other working women facing much more advanced and aggressive diseases who were facing long-term toxic treatments. “Aside from the side effects which made working impossible,” says Molly, “they were at risk for losing their jobs altogether as their FMLA benefits were not going to outlast their treatment protocol.” Molly heard these women express thoughts of stopping treatment and returning to work to improve their financial situations, which would put them at risk for earlier mortality. “It was then that I asked my social worker about help for women like me and them. There was nothing of real significance to help,” adds Molly. “My quest to get help for myself became one to give help to others.” From this, Pink Fund was born. “My husband and I bootstrapped this organization into existence in 2006; in 2012 Ford Motor Company through Warriors in Pink took it as national. It all takes vision, patience, and timing.”
Want to get involved? Here’s how to help.
- Volunteer at Pink Fund’s monthly committee meetings or help to process files. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Raise money in your community through your place of business, school, or sports teams.
- Get involved with Pink Fund’s annual fundraiser, Dancing for the Survivors, which was held in Detroit in October.
- Host a dinner in your home or another small fundraising event. For more information, visit pinkfund.org.