Cancer survivor wants others to know 'You're Not Alone'

Serving on the board of directors for the You’re Not Alone organization are (from left) Steve Cline, Charlene Burcham, Lea-Ann Bartlett, Matt Schaller, Ronda Wethington, Jody Bray, Diane Beltran, Staci Wright, Lori Stigall and Heather Schaller. Not pictured are Davey Martin, Vanessa Beltran, Brittney Clark, Brandon and Mattie Wethington, Doniel Kolm, Stephanie Stoner and Cassy Cloud.

Diane Beltran of Lebanon, while fighting her own bout of cancer, started the organization “You’re Not Alone.”

“The day the doctor said I had cancer is a day I will never forget,” Beltran said.

She said a co-worker, on her first day of chemo treatment, received a gift bag full of items that would come in handy during treatment. That gave Beltran the idea and it stayed with her throughout her treatment.

In October of 2019, when Beltran was feeling better, she presented the idea of chemo gift bags to her co-workers. Within two days, she had gathered $500 to start her organization — You’re Not Alone — to let cancer patients know that others are thinking of them and to provide them with a bit of comfort.

The organization now has a committee of 15 people, including two cancer survivors.

To date, YNA has collected $3,500 without a single fundraising event and has delivered more than 25 gift bags to Witham Health Services.

Witham sees about five new cancer patients each week. Every patient that goes through chemo treatment at Witham, regardless of whether they are a Boone County resident, will receive a YNA gift bag to aid in their journey.

Beltran and YNA recently partnered with Joy Kaylor and the Boone County Cancer Society so YNA is now considered a program of the Boone County Cancer Society.

“I was relieved when Joy reached out and asked to partner up. ‘You’re Not Alone’ exploded more than I ever anticipated,” Beltran said.

Each bag costs about $40 to make and includes a blanket, socks, Ensure drinks, Body Armor drinks, Biotine mouthwash, heavy moisturizer, hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes, Kleenex, straws, a pen, a journal, Chapstick, LifeSavers, a word search book, hat/gloves during the colder months and a rice bag than can be refrigerated or heated. The bags also include a personal note from a cancer survivor.

“Our goal for this year is to spread the word so all of Boone County knows about us so we can continue to help future cancer patients,” Beltran said.

This is Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month there will be “Ribbon Trees” placed throughout the county at Cutting Edge Beauty Salon, The Elks Lodge, Solace, Ultimate Tans, Dr. Fraizer’s Office, Modern Barber Shop, Parky’s restaurant and Zeke’s Club 39. People may buy a ribbon for $1 in honor of someone fighting cancer or in honor/memory of someone who has survived or lost their battle.

Other ways to donate include donating money or leaving items – like those listed above – in donation boxes and cans at Bekah’s Café, That Sports Bar, each Boone County elementary school, Cowans Drugs, Sunspot, the Lebanon Public Library, the Boone County Senior Citizen building, Mental Health Department, and Kristina’s Salon.

Zeke’s Club 39 is hosting a euchre tournament at 3 p.m. Feb. 15. Proceeds will go to the YNA organization.

For more information and upcoming fundraising events, visit the website at www.Facebook.com/yourenotalone.leb.

Donations may also be made through Amazon Wishlist at www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist.

Halie Cope writes for The Lebanon Reporter. Email her at halie.cope@reporter.net.

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