By Kelly Medinger
The Red Devils use health care grant to support breast cancer patients in need
What does it mean to be a Red Devil?
The name itself references the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin, commonly used in the treatment of a wide range of cancers including breast cancer.
It is also the title of Katherine Russell Rich’s spirited memoir about her own breast cancer treatment entitled The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer and Back (Metheun, 2002). The book inspired the mother of breast cancer patient Jessica Cowling, and she later adopted the team name The Red Devils for the Susan G. Komen Race. When Jessica and her friend Ginny Schardt died of breast cancer, the organization The Red Devils was founded in their honor.
Serving Breast Cancer Patients throughout Maryland
Ten years later, The Red Devils serves nearly 700 breast cancer patients and their families each year. The organization’s geographic reach has grown from one hospital in Baltimore to 39 hospitals across Maryland. Notably, they are able to serve all of these patients with only two staff members and a network of hospital coordinators, namely nurses and social workers. “It’s a brilliant business model that was created by our founders and has served us well,” shares Janice Wilson, Executive Director, explaining that the organization dramatically limits its overhead by vesting certain decisions with professional staff at the hospital level.
The Knott Foundation has awarded The Red Devils $60,000 in operating support over the past five years, ultimately helping the organization grow from serving 500 patients in 2008 to nearly 700 in 2011. On average, The Red Devils provides each patient or family with $300 for critical needs, including transportation to treatment, family support, and medical costs.
Enhancing the Quality of Life
The support provided by The Red Devils enhances patients’ quality of life and promotes normalcy in a most traumatic time. “The Red Devils made it possible for survival. The pressure that I carried impacted my healing process. Your kindness and thoughtfulness gave me peace to heal,” commented one patient. Another simply stated, “I could not afford to go to my treatments without your support. You were a God send for me as I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
So what does it mean to be a Red Devil? It means a life-giving helping hand to someone in need. It means hope above despair. “Until there’s a cure for breast cancer, we need to be here,” Wilson concludes. “That’s why, for now, it’s great to be a Devil.”