ENCINITAS — Eve Beutler, MFT, has been a popular North County therapist for 30 years. In 2007, she was so moved by the plight of a patient that she founded the nonprofit Cancer Angels of San Diego to help her and others.Georgia Misopoulos was a Stage IV breast cancer patient who had just received a warning letter, from a nonprofit that had been paying her rent and utilities, that she would no longer be receiving assistance due to a change in policy.
“I called some large charities and there was nothing,” Beutler recalled. “Then I called family, friends and the Meritage Restaurant to see what they could do in the way of a fundraiser.
“Dr. Mario Yco, otolaryngologist, said he’d underwrite the cost of the dinner. Singer Peggy Lebo offered to provide entertainment.”
The event raised $33,000, which made it possible for Misopoulos and eight other women to stay in their homes.
Since that time, Cancer Angels has supported 250 cancer patients and their children. Today, they are launching another all-out effort to generate donations.
“Like other small charities, we are in the need of funding to continue to give at the level we have, and to take on more patients,” Beutler said.
She explained that by the time patients reach Stage IV, the cancer has spread throughout the body. Although people can live for years with Stage IV cancer, lifetime treatment causes severe side effects making it impossible to work.
Of the 25 percent of San Diego County cancer patients who will eventually be diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, more than 40 percent will be unable to pay their medical bills. Twenty-five percent will face homelessness.
“At the time I was seeing Eve I was absolutely distraught and had no idea what I was going to do,” said Misopoulos, who previously worked as a corporate sales professional. “Cancer Angels enabled me to focus on healing rather than going to bed at night, worrying if I was going to have a bed to sleep in the next night.”
She added, “A few months ago I was in hospice and wasn’t expected to live through the month. Now I’m back home. I’m a miracle, but it wouldn’t have been possible without Eve.”
Benedict Marfori worked as a golf attendant at the Four Seasons Aviara until he was struck with pancreatic cancer in 2007. He says he never took a sick day in the nine years he was on the job until the receiving the diagnosis.
Today, his pancreatic cancer has spread to his liver. Side effects of medication have resulted in kidney failure and fluid in the lungs. Consequently, Marfori’s life revolves around chemotherapy and dialysis. What bothers him the most is the constant worry, and the fact that the burden of work falls solely on his wife, a bank teller.
“She is apprehensive because people are getting laid off, left and right, and there is no job security,” Marfori said. “At the beginning, I had savings but we went through that fast.”
He added, “Since Cancer Angels has been helping us, we know we have a place to stay. I have a little dog that we got from the shelter who lifts my spirits, and they give me dog food for free (compliments of Petco Oceanside). When I am in hospital, Cancer Angels visit me.”
Specifically, Beutler is seeking cash donations and gift cards for food (99 Cent Store, Wal-Mart, Ralphs, Vons) and gas. Because Cancer Angels has no overhead, all donations go directly to helping Stage IV cancer patients.
She explained that Cancer Angels has a lifetime commitment to their patients as long as they are disabled and unable to work. However, clients are required to sign up for food stamps and, with Cancer Angels’ assistance, downsize if necessary.
“The more money we get, the more we can help,” Beutler said.
Volunteers are also needed to serve as a marketing professional, social worker and administrative assistant.
“If we can put together a good team in San Diego, we could mentor volunteers in other counties, and states, and grow nationally,” she said.
For more information, or to make a donation or volunteer, visit cancerangelsofsandiego.org, call (760) 942-6346 or email [email protected]