In 1964, a 16-year old star athlete and student named Jim Deming died of leukemia. He left behind a grieving family, a best friend named Mark, and a very special girlfriend named Margie. While Jim lay dying, Mark promised him that he would work in the field of cancer, and that he would always take care of Margie.
Right before their senior year of college, Mark and Margie married, and following graduation, Mark started medical school. His specialty: oncology. Following Mark’s residency and the birth of two children, Margie knew that she wanted to be involved in the field of cancer as well. She created a role as a patient advocate for cancer patients and was able to see first hand many of the issues that cancer patients face and the heartbreaking decisions many have to make. “Do I buy my medication or do I pay my rent?” “Should I cut my medication in half and hope it works so that I can afford groceries to feed my family?” Others may consider, “Should I stop treatment and try to go back to work to help with expenses?” The requests continued, and with nowhere to turn to help these families, Margie felt compelled to start a non-profit organization that would meet these needs for adult cancer patients and their families.
Angel Foundation is Born
In 2001, with funds from the doctors in her husband’s oncology practice – Minnesota Oncology Hematology P.A. – (now Minnesota Oncology) Angel Foundation was born. Since its inception, Angel Foundation has provided millions of dollars in non-medical emergency financial assistance so families struggling with a cancer diagnosis don’t have to face another set of worries.
Facing Cancer Together
In 2005, a program for children who have a parent or grandparent with cancer was created. This year-long educational support program, called Facing Cancer Together, has evolved to have a family focus, helping families gain understanding, strength and hope as they face the challenges of cancer together. It has proved to be invaluable, as many young participants have realized in the program that “they didn’t cause their mom’s cancer.”
Margie continues to be involved as founder of Angel Foundation, and Mark is an advisor. Both are as passionate and committed today to helping cancer families as they were in 1964.