The Cancer Alliance was born out of one couple’s recognition of need and their desire to meet it. Palm Beach County banker Charles Fischer and Greta Jean Fischer, longtime administrator of radiation therapy centers in Arkansas and Florida, had served on local and state boards and committees for a national nonprofit cancer organization for many years. Although a number of groups raised funds for research and other needs, none were providing emergency financial assistance to help cancer patients – and their families — while they were undergoing treatment.
Charles, Jean and members of the local board of the national organization saw how dire the need was for assistance in Palm Beach County. Patients with a cancer diagnosis would call the organization seeking help, only to be told that assistance was not available.
Soon, Charles, Jean and the board began hearing of patients losing their homes, having their utilities turned off or their cars repossessed because of the financial stress they were experiencing while undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. This small group shared their concern for struggling patients with friends and acquaintances who expressed a desire to help.
Because Charles and Jean had friends who had started a similar nonprofit in Naples, they attended several of its board meetings and fundraising events to see how they operated. That set the wheels in motion for a new nonprofit in Palm Beach County – focusing primarily on meeting the financial needs of cancer patients in or recently finished with treatment.
Charles, Jean and this local group applied for a 501(C)3 exemption on September 11, 2003 and received it on October 20, 2003. In the decade since that modest beginning, this grassroots nonprofit organization has served over 20,000 clients and disbursed over $5 million to cancer patients in need.