Prince George's group helps those with breast cancer

By Liz Skalski
The Gazette
Thursday, October 14, 2010

In three years, a Bowie-based nonprofit group has warmed the hearts and spirits of several hundred women with breast cancer in Prince George's County.

All Shades of Pink Inc., which works to assist women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families with nonmedical advice, comfort blankets or emergency financial assistance during treatment periods, celebrated its three-year anniversary Sept. 7.

"It's more successful than I had originally anticipated," said Denice Whalen-White, 52, of Bowie, the nonprofit's founder and executive director. "I just love knowing that I have these special gifts that God has given me and I'm using them to make a difference in other people's lives, especially when it's hard for them to help themselves in all that they need."

Whalen-White, who has never had breast cancer, said she wanted to create an organization that addressed "some of the day-to-day needs" for breast cancer patients.

"I just felt there needed to be more organizations like my own that can help people, give them that helping hand when they need it," she said.

The nonprofit's signature programs -- the comfort blanket program and the emergency utility assistance program -- have taken off in the past three years.

Through donations, grants and fundraising, the nonprofit has raised more than $75,000, which helps to support the programs and other costs, Whalen-White said.

Mary Lingebach, a nurse at Doctors Community Hospital and the secretary for the All Shades of Pink board of directors, said organizations like All Shades of Pink are lacking.

"It's pretty unique -- there aren't that many, unfortunately. There really aren't that many organizations out there helping [cancer patients]," Lingebach said. "I just thank heaven for groups like Denice's -- they're just fulfilling a huge gap in a small community hospital where we don't have access to certain resources."

Lingebach, who personally delivers the blankets, said they mean a lot to patients.

"Most of the time I see tears of joy at a really bad time because they feel supported by people they haven't even met," Lingebach said. "[They get the blankets at a time] when they're feeling a lot of despair and helpless and hopeless. It kind of is a real pick-me-up to them -- a random act of kindness from people they don't know."

Elissa McCrary, the regional communications director for the American Cancer Society, said organizations like All Shades of Pink are important to local communities.

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