As often occurs, good things result from bad situations. Such is the case with the creation of the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society (MCHS). Yoli Vernon Bell was 50 years old and knew first-hand the overwhelming impact cancer can and does have on individuals and their family members: Yoli's mother died in 1973 at the age of 50 from Hodgkin's Lymphoma; an aunt died from Leukemia; and, two 1st cousins also died from cancer. And, if this exposure wasn't enough to bring the harsh reality of cancer's impact to one's life, Yoli was destined to experience her own reality in January 2000, when a tumor was discovered in her right breast. Unlike a tumor discovered when she was 17 years old, this one was cancerous. Facing her own battle with breast cancer over the next eight months proved to be the impetus for the creation of the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society.
In September 2000, Yoli began to research the steps necessary to establish a non-profit organization which would serve cancer patients and families in the Virgin Valley area. Initially, her search led her to the American Cancer Society (ACS) but becoming a chapter/charter of the ACS would mean all monies raised locally would go to ACS's national office. This defeated one of her primary goals of providing financial assistance to cancer clients in the local area. There was no "template" for developing the independent organization she envisioned for Mesquite and the surrounding communities, so creating one became her purpose in life.
There were times when the task seemed insurmountable, more than could be accomplished by one woman who had just completed her own chemo and radiation treatments. Two close friends, Judy Macica and Anna Medlin, agreed to join Yoli. Judy had survived uterine cancer, and Anna's son, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Multiple Myeloma, had just completed a year of clinical trials at the Hutchinson Cancer Research Hospital in Seattle, WA. Both ladies jumped at the opportunity to be part of such an important and worthy endeavor. Yoli acknowledged their much-appreciated help by naming them co-founders of MCHS. (Sadly, Anna Medlin lost her own battle to pancreatic cancer and passed from this earth in April, 2005.)
Limited service to clients began in February 2001. Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Nevada in April 2001, and the IRS granted MCHS a 501(c)(3) non-profit status in October 2001. The Mesquite Cancer HELP Society was getting closer to being able to fully serve the residents of the Virgin Valley. There was one last hurdle to jump - finding an office to call home.
One thing was certain, this fledgling service organization did not have the funds to lease office space. Thankfully, Rich Gillespie, owner of then SAGE Nutrition Store, came to the rescue by offering MCHS a small space in the back room of his store. To acknowledge his enthusiasm to help, Yoli volunteered to cover the operation of his store when Rich needed to be gone. Confined as this first office space was, and with the use of some of Rich's stock shelves for wigs and educational material, the MCHS officially opened its doors to the Public! A Board of Directors was created comprised of the following individuals: Rosemary Lindbeck, retired RN; Dr. Mike Rice; Dr. Ann Rice; Mel Drown, City of Mesquite Finance Director; Carolyn Duggins, Hospice RN; Glen Horlacher, Family Counselor; Tom Stettler, Veteran; and, Allen Bell, City Engineer.
Within two years, more selfless souls in Mesquite stepped up and helped MCHS move to a larger location. Randy and Tracey Johnson (Alford, Inc.) and Chuck Bentley (Pride Contractors) purchased a mobile building and located it on the east side of Mesquite Boulevard. Charlie Goessman donated and hooked-up the air-conditioner, Mark Hanson, owner of Mesquite Furniture, donated furniture and, Kevin Parrish, owner of Mesquite Tile and Flooring, donated and installed the carpet. The generous support of these fine people insured that MCHS was here to stay! The greatest commendation goes to the kind and most generous support MCHS received and continues to receive from our exceptional community, Mesquite!
Today, the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society occupies office space at 150 N. Yucca St., #36. Client services have gone from helping with fuel and prescriptions costs to; providing air fare to patients who must fly to out-of-state cancer treatment centers, paying for accommodations when necessary, assisting with payments of medical bills, hospital equipment, radiation, and insurance payment assistance. MCHS also offers telemental health (counseling) services, holds monthly support group meetings, as well as countless other services...
Once a dream, now a reality going into its 20th year of service, MCHS is the guiding light in the shadow assisting cancer patients as they begin their journey through many challenges -- supporting them in their fight for SURVIVORSHIP!! At the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society, "MCHS" cancer patients' needs are met, TODAY, when HELP is most crucial.