On Sept. 2, 2011, 11 years after first being diagnosed with breast cancer, Cindy Crane lost the battle. During the more than ten years Crane fought for her life, she saw firsthand the financial difficulties that cancer places on families and wanted to do what she could to lessen that burden for others.
The Cindy Crane Cancer Fund was established by Crane's family in her memory and is intended to offer financial assistance to Macon County families affected by cancer. “My family has discussed each year having a different type of tournament to raise money for the Cancer Fund,” said Stephanie Crane Bowles, Crane's eldest daughter. “Last year we held a golf tournament and this year it is a corn hole tournament at the Macon County Recreation Park that will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, from noon until 5 p.m.”
“My family was close growing up,” said Stephanie. “My mom always went out of her way to help my sister Ashley and me with whatever we needed. Any event we participated in, my parents were there. She always made sure that her children were taken care of but also were mature adults. We weren't babied but we were lucky to have caring parents who always supported us.”
Crane was first diagnosed in August 2000, at the age of 36, with breast cancer. “She went through treatments, chemo and radiation, and also had a breast mastectomy,” said Stephanie. “Since her cancer was estrogen-fed, she continued to get shots to help keep her in menopause until 2005 when she had a hysterectomy.” After the treatments, surgeries and the shots, things seemed to be going well for Crane.
“Then, in February 2008, we were told it had came back and was now in her bones,” said Stephanie. “From 2008 to 2011, she took treatments in small doses to keep it under control in an attempt to stop or slow down the spreading of the disease, but it continued to spread to many places in her bones, eye and then to the liver.”
Crane passed on Sept. 2, 2011, at the age of 47. By that time, the cancer had spread to many areas on her body and the doctors informed the family there was nothing more they could do. “The months before, she had lost a lot of weight and was not able to eat much,” remembered Stephanie. “She had to go to the hospital every few weeks to have fluid drained off of her liver and her skin/eyes began to turn yellow. We knew then it wouldn't be long because her liver was shutting down.”
The family started the Cindy Crane Cancer Fund after experiencing how quickly doctor bills began to accumulate for Crane. “My mom always had to juggle bills and apply for assistance to get help with the cost of the treatments and all the doctor bills,” said Stephanie. “My mom wanted there to be a way for low income families, that were having to deal with cancer and all the many costs that come along with it, to have help.”
Creating the cancer fund was not only important to Crane's family to be able to help others, but to also honor their mother's wish. “It is important to my family because we would like to, of course, help others, but also to continue to lay out the help that my mom wanted for others that she was not able to receive herself,” said Stephanie. “We want to live out her wish for her.”
The cancer fund distributes money twice a year, in the summer and right before Christmas.
The corn hole tournament is scheduled for Nov. 2 at the Macon County Recreation Park. The entry fee is $40 per team. Prizes will be a set of cornhole boards with a Breast Cancer Ribbon on them and $100 for first place and $50 for second place. “We will have a double elimination tournament run by Nathan Lowe of Blue Ridge Cornhole,” said Shawn Bowles, Stephanie's husband and event promoter. “Also a 50/50 raffle and a money shot will be additional opportunities for winning money. We will also have BBQ plates for sale at the event. In case of bad weather, we have the rec gym for backup as well.”
“The event is important for multiple reasons; for one Cindy Crane Cancer Fund supports and makes donations twice a year to cancer patients in need in Macon County,” said Bowles. “Also, it is a great event to raise breast cancer awareness and a good atmosphere for breast cancer supporters and survivors to come together for. We are really looking forward to having a great turnout. Last year's golf tourney went awesome and we hope the same will be said for this year.”
Sign up will be the day of the event or beforehand by contacting Shawn Bowles at (828)342-8176 or Nathan Lowe at (828)734-6692.
Applications for the cancer fund are available at Angel Medical Center where cancer patients receive their treatments and also at Dr. Messino's office.
“Anyone who knew my mom knew that she was a very selfless person and always wanted to help others,” said Stephanie. “She was a friend to many other cancer patients while going through her treatments. She would talk to them and support them with emotions as well as questions they might have. Many people told us later after she had passed that she was so helpful to them during such a difficult time in their lives. With this event/fund we just want to honor my mom and the tough fight that she put up for so long. Even though she may not have won her battle she can continue to help others who are going through the rough times with this disease.”