Cancer giving tree seeks to help patients

Published 4:41 am Friday, December 12, 2003

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS -- Cancer is a family affair. When a person is told they have cancer, their entire family and friends are also touched.
It was Thanksgiving two years ago when Karly Hayman's sister, Kim (Rafferty) Felton, was told she had cancer.
More than most who hear those words, she was well aware of what they could mean, as she worked for Dr. Lia, an oncologist for Lakeland in St. Joseph.
Fear returned this Thanksgiving, when it was thought the cancer had returned, but fortunately was not rediscovered.
Karly, Dr. John's wife, describes herself as a very competitive person, whether she is on the indoor soccer court in South Bend, Ind., or bristled up over a cause.
When Karly heard from her sister about the many patients, including those from Cass County, who couldn't even afford gas to go to their doctor appointments or pay for prescriptions, she rose up and wanted to fight.
Her answer to wanting to help is a Christmas tree full of pink clothespins. She choose pink as it is the color to signify the fight against breast cancer.
The clothespins have been decorated with sparkles and jewels, and the name of the person for which a donation has been made.
UPS driver Dan Granger of Stevensville heard about the tree when he was making a delivery. He purchased a clothespin for his wife Laurie, who is Dr. Lai's patient, fighting throat cancer.
Gifts have also been donated for a raffle, including a massage from Pacific Day Spa in Dowagiac and a gift certificate from Dussels in Cassopolis.
When her sister was out of work a year, "she became very depressed," said Karly. "It affected the whole family. This is a family disease."
Hopefully this will be an annual project, Karly added, and they can help several patients from the county.