Helping Hands for Manitobans with Breast Cancer Inc. was profiled in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press in June 2009.

Helping Hands provides grants

By: Erin Madden
29/06/2009 - Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION (Page B3)

Rachel Parkinson and Candace Propp

TREVOR.HAGAN@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Rachel Parkinson (left) and Candace Propp volunteer with Helping Hands for Manitobans with Breast Cancer Inc.

Fighting breast cancer is a tough battle, not only physically and emotionally, but also financially.

Many women who have little insurance coverage struggle to make ends meet. Seniors on fixed incomes find it tough to scrape by. And single moms, already working hard to raise a family, are forced to work harder at a time when they should be focusing on their own health.

Helping Hands for Manitobans with Breast Cancer, a non-profit organization, is trying to make life a little easier for those people. Run by volunteers, the group provides grants to those in need to help pay for transportation and accommodation costs, and items such as wigs and prosthetics -- costs which are often not covered by insurance.

Volunteer Candace Propp knows what it's like to battle breast cancer: She has fought that battle twice. Propp recognizes that she was one of the lucky ones, with a great insurance plan and a very supportive husband to help her through.

A founding member of the Helping Hands group and curently its treasurer, Propp said she wants to reach out to those in tougher positions.

"We've heard stories about women who have been left by their husbands when they get breast cancer, or have had no insurance and have had to quit work, and then they have no means of paying for things. They have to sell their homes and move in with their parents," explained Propp.

"It's pretty devastating, actually. People think that because it gets so much publicity and there's so many funds raised for it, that no one is really suffering financially with it and that everything should be covered, but it's not. There are a lot of expenses that are accrued going through the whole thing," Propp said.

Helping Hands president Rachel Parkinson, whose mother and grandmother have battled breast cancer, said that most of the money raised by cancer organizations goes towards research.

"I don't know that there's any other organizations that give financial assistance to people directly," said Parkinson. "When these people apply (to Helping Hands) and you hear their stories -- some of them are pretty destitute. We just need to help these people."

Since the recession, she said, Helping Hands has been even busier, with more women seeking assistance to help cover the costs of parking fees, accommodations, and specialty bras and prosthetics, which can run several hundreds of dollars.

In order to be able to provide that assistance, the organization conducts fundraising events and initiatives. They do this with the help of dedicated volunteers, and they welcome new recruits.

If you would like more information about Helping Hands for Manitobans with Breast Cancer, please visit If you would like to become a volunteer, please contact Glennys Propp at 256-7955.

If you know a volunteer who strives to make their community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at