With a recent and sudden loss of a good friend, this statistic hits home.

Ask yourself: have you or anyone you know fought cancer? If you're from Oklahoma, chances are that - in some way - you're connected to someone affected by the disease.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Oklahoma, with more than just a handful of types. It is so widely known in Oklahoma that we have things like the OK Corral, "a cost-free home for pediatric cancer patients and their families to stay while they are undergoing treatments for cancer."

Toby Kieth, who started the foundation that has been helping cancer patients since 2006, died from stomach cancer, himself, in February 2024.

One of the saddest facts about these deaths is that many of which could've been avoided or treated. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, "nearly half of cancer deaths can be linked to modifiable risk factors, such as diet, physical activity, excess body mass, and tobacco use."

Because of the impact cancer has had on the people here in Oklahoma, you'll often find different events organized in order to raise enough money to help those fighting.

You may not know how difficult the struggle is for most people in the state until you realize just how many people aren't ready for a fight like this one. According to USA facts, "Oklahoma has the 2nd-highest share of the uninsured population." So, the cost for medical care is usually coming right out of their own pockets.

When you take into consideration that the average cost to fight cancer is around $150,000, you might start to see where fundraisers and donations play a vital role in receiving medical care.

How Can You Help?

Again, financial assistance goes a long way. If you see an event dedicated to raising money for someone fighting cancer, attend and donate. Many times, they have auctions, prize giveaways, meals, or concerts - something you can receive in exchange for your help.

The cost of cancer doesn't always go away after they've fought the fight. Usually, there are lasting effects and continual check-ups to make sure the cancer doesn't return. Some events are dedicated to those who have won that fight, but still have their struggles after.

Offering emotional support for your loved ones, as well, can be just as important. If you have a special talent: singing, dancing, painting, etc. and would like to share the experience with someone fighting the good fight, you can help them enjoy their life just a little more.

If you have a trained therapy animal, there are options to join organizations who regularly visit hospitals or treatment centers to allow cancer patients to spend some time with your furbaby.

@sierra_stone98 Thought I’d post the full video with both of the best therapy dogs since so many people liked the last video! So grateful for their visit that day! I have a soft spot for Goldens since I have one myself! #cancersucks #nonhodgkinslymphoma #therapydogs #fyp ♬ original sound - sierrastone

In hard times, it's important to remember that a little can go a long way. Even if the person who is fighting cancer has no relation to you whatsoever, they could still use your help.

@ajvictorymd These are all things my patients have suggested:           Go to the oncology appointment to take notes/record the visit and help them generate a list of questions beforehand       Communicate updates with their circle via a group chat/phone tree/private social media group         Offer childcare during appointments or a hot meal or clean home after            Provide rides, care packages from their community (fluffy socks, a luxurious bathrobe, the softest pajamas, their favorite treats), and/or company during chemotherapy sessions            Some groups offer free home cleaning - research in your area and/or set it up for them: check out https://cleaningforareason.org/           If they are interested in online/in person support groups, look up where to find them and go with them       Help them join regional cancer type and stage Facebook groups for local resources      Send them a lovely card or care package with a note and make it clear you do not expect a reply         #breastcancer #cancer #cancersucks #coloncancer #cancersupport #oncology ♬ Little Things - Adrian Berenguer

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