The statistics from the American Cancer Society (, are a staggering, eye-opening reality! It is estimated that, in 2018, there will be 1,735,350 new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States, 135,170 in Florida alone. It also predicts an additional 609,640 deaths, 45,030 of which will occur right here in our own backyard, Florida.

Cancer is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives and families. The costs associated with its treatment continue to escalate, despite the FDA’s approval of both new and generic prescription drugs. The headline on the HealthDay website, (, reported about one cancer drug, typical of the continuing increase in the cost of these lifesaving, prescription medicines: “Soaring Prices Keep Leukemia Drugs from Patients, Experts Say $100,000-a-year meds seen as obstacle to treatment.”

“Eleven of 12 cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 were priced above $100,000 a year,” the report noted. “And average monthly cancer drug prices have nearly doubled over the past decade – from $5,000 a month to more than $10,000 a month.”

In a recent speech, (, FDA commissioner Gottlieb, M.D. decried cancer patients’ plight: “Rising copays and coinsurance are pushing far too many patients into a financial no-man’s land where sometimes they must literally choose between exhausting their bank accounts or going without access to potentially effective treatments.”

Award winning Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hilzik questioned the FDA’s commitment to control costs with a quote from Dr. Greene of Johns Hopkins in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.: “Greene pegs his analysis to the run-up in prices of generic drugs whose manufacturers face little or no competition, and therefore almost no disincentive to keep prices reasonable.”

Who can afford the $100,000-a-year or more in prohibitive cancer treatment costs and still pay every-day, non-medical expenses like mortgage, rent, gas, car and repairs, electricity, utilities and, most importantly, food? This is the quandary that many cancer patients face daily, but for those living primarily in the Pinellas county area, there is hope.

It is hope in the form of a wonderful, caring non-profit organization, Women with Purpose, started by founder, Jane Morse-Swett and her friends Millie Diaz, Patricia Schachtel, Bonnie Scholz, Dawn Lane and Barbara Austin. Each caring lady is still an integral part of this six-year-old organization.

When huge charities only receive a two-star out of a possible four-star rating, (, in part, because of their huge overhead and fundraising costs, it is comforting to know that 95% of every donated dollar goes directly to the patients and their families through Women with Purpose. This is an entirely volunteer organization. There is minimal overhead because everyone, including the founder, Jane Morse-Swett, willingly volunteers their time and energy.

Jane Morse-Swett

Jane defines the role of Women with Purpose as: “providing for the non-medical expenses for cancer patients.” These expenses can include a variety of products, from school supplies to toilet paper and many other needs not covered by food stamps and other government programs. Their latest partnership with Beach Community Food Pantry in Indian Rocks Beach will now make fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat available to the clients that they are serving.

If you are wondering if it works, read what several recipients have to say about Women with Purpose. On their Facebook page, ( (Names have been listed as initials to preserve client confidentiality). M.D. was especially grateful for their help:

“Forget Mother Theresa, Jane Morse-Swett and her awesome members of Women with Purpose are true saints helping those that the big $$$ charities forget about because the photo op won’t bring funds. These women give selflessly to support local cancer patients with financial support for non-medical needs, rent, car payments utility bills, food etc. …”

“These wonderful women need a sponsor, a bank, a car dealer, a builder, a business with heart and purpose that can help them do their great work. To support Jane and WWP is what it means to truly give back.”

Another recipient, G.G., lent her voice to their Facebook review when she wrote, “Thank you so much for helping my family when we needed it the most. You are such an awesome asset to our community.”

If you want your donation to help patients in need and not be diluted by excessive administrative and fund-raising costs, Women with Purpose should be the destination for your charity dollars. For more information, to receive help, or to donate to this worthy community cause, visit their website ( or Facebook page ( Women with Purpose continues to prove every day that we are our “brother’s keeper.”

M.M. said it best on their website: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”