Beyond the physical challenges of enduring cancer treatment, breast cancer takes a toll on life’s day-to-day tasks.
Over the years, we’ve told you about great organizations like ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis), but Milwaukee’s own Savage Support offers a different kind of help for women working through this difficult time.
Founded in 2015 by Deanna Savage, herself a breast cancer surviver, Savage Support doesn’t offer assistance on the medical side of cancer treatment. Instead, it pays for patients’ day-to-day expenses, like groceries, cleaning services, yoga, massage or infrared therapy.
Savage says her organization fills in the support in a way others do not.
“We’re here just to help alleviate the stress that comes along with the diagnosis and with the process of healing,” she says. “For example, changing sheets on a bed. You think nothing of it, until you don't have those muscles to work with. Just all these little things that come up, we try to assist them.”
Their website is set up like a shopping center, says Savage, so participants get a monthly allowance and can choose how they use their funds. They work with vendors for discounted services, and also rely on donors.
“It's more on the ground, in the weeds,” she says.
To support their efforts, Savage Support is hosting its annual benefit party on Friday, May 20, which it calls “A Funky Night Out.” It’s their first in-person fundraiser since before COVID.
The benefit, which runs from 6-10 p.m,. takes place at a “party house” at 1630 W. Manor Lane in Brown Deer and, for the $50 admission charge, will include old-school DJ music, heavy appetizers, wine, beer and a signature cocktail. They’re also offering a ton of high-end raffle prizes, like tickets and a hotel stay to the American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
While attendance is limited to 150 people, Savage says she’s absolutely hoping that people who enjoy these kind of fundraisers, and cancer events, specifically, come to this funky party. Her 501(c)(3) non-profit has helped about 20 women over the years, but still has the capacity to grow.
“Some have graduated, if you will, and some have passed on,” says Savage. “Some are stage four, so we're helping them forever, for as long as we can.”
In the case of Amanda Wisth, whose mother eventually died of breast cancer, the group was so helpful that she eventually joined the board of directors.
“My mom was Savage Support’s first beneficiary, and there is no doubt in my mind that her experience with this dynamic organization helped to change her life,” says Wisth. “Not only because the wonderful services they provided for her, but for the heart and soul that went into all of it. My mom truly felt seen, heard, understood and that she mattered. I am forever grateful for this organization, the impact it had on my mom and the work we continue to do.”
Tickets for “A Funky Night” are available online, but even if you can’t attend, Savage encourages interested Milwaukeeans to consider other ways to chip in, whether it be to offer services, volunteer or donate. The group, she says, is still very self-funded.
Says Savage, “We haven't received grants or funding from any big kind of philanthropic corporation. We just do it on the ground.”
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.