Tricia’s Troops Cancer Connection is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance, service coordination and supportive care to cancer patients throughout southeast Wisconsin. We focus on the daily living challenges and out-of-pocket expenses that become a burden for many families during treatment. We also provide a variety of free services and supplies to local cancer fighters to ensure they feel the embrace of our community on their journey toward healing.
In 2021, Tricia’s Troops celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and since the inception of our organization our programs and services have touched the lives of 4,196 local cancer fighters and their families. We’ll share more about what we do, but to fully understand that, it’s important to share how and why we began.
On January 16th of 2010, life took a dramatic turn. That is the date that Tricia Wright, a wife and mother of two little girls, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer with metastasis to her liver and lungs. At age 35, the diagnosis and especially the aggressiveness of the disease came as a shock. Surgery was successfully performed to remove the colon tumor, but her liver tumor and multiple lung spots still remained. After consulting with her surgeon and oncologist, chemotherapy was determined to be the best course of treatment.
During the initial months of treatment, a group of people from Tricia’s home church, Dr. Martin Luther Church, began providing meals, prayers, cards, and other gestures of support to help and encourage her throughout her battle. The group became known as “Tricia’s Troops” and soon the entire community rallied around Tricia and her family.
The Wrights recognized that not everyone has the abundant blessings that they were fortunate to receive in their time of need, so she and her husband B.J. made it their mission to start a non-profit organization to “give back” and touch the lives of other members of the community facing cancer. It was in May of 2011 that their vision was realized and they proudly hosted the grand opening of Troops Cancer Connection.
In Tricia’s personal life, the outpouring of support filled her with a sense of peace, hope for the future, and a faithful calling to live vibrantly … even though cancer had touched her life. She adopted the motto “Where Faith is Planted, Miracles Can Bloom” and every moment that Tricia lived, she believed in those words.
Tricia did not receive the miracle of a cure here on Earth, but on April 26th, 2012 she received the miracle of eternal life in heaven and her beautiful legacy lives on in the organization she created.
What does that legacy and the organization she inspired look like today in 2022?
As we all know, cancer is a costly disease that takes a toll in many ways. And when diagnosed, an individual’s needs far exceed medical treatment alone. That is why Tricia’s Troops provides financial assistance and free support services that focus on the practical concerns, out-of-pocket costs, and non-medical daily living challenges and expenses that arise from living with cancer.
Even with insurance, cancer can devastate an individual or family’s financial well-being. Due to the demands and effects of treatment, patients and their caregivers are often working less and experiencing loss of wages when their needs and expenses are highest. And now the past couple years, as a result of COVID-19, these same patients who were already in the fight for their lives with cancer alone are now at greater risk of serious complications associated with the global pandemic. We are finding that cancer patients who were already struggling physically and emotionally are now getting furloughed, let go, or can’t take the risk of going to jobs that were once their means of stability. This uncertainty can even keep people from completing treatments if they feel the need to choose between their daily living needs and their medical care.
That is why our CARE (Cancer Assistance Relief & Encouragement) Program exists to improve the well-being of local cancer fighters by providing the tangible support needed to address the costs and burdens associated with cancer treatment.
When a young mom says, “How am I going to feed my family while paying these medical bills?” we provide grocery gift cards to help put food on the table. When an elderly woman fears, “How am I going to afford getting back and forth for treatment?” we provide fuel gift cards or coordinate and pay for a ride service. When a father, who can’t work due to his side effects, says, “How am I going to provide for my family?” we pay the WE Energies bill and help pay the rent so he doesn’t need to worry about keeping a roof over their heads or heat in their home. We listen to the unique circumstances and needs of each person and offer appropriate support options.
We also distribute flower bouquets, chemo care/radiation relief tote bags, and oral care kits to patients at local cancer centers to provide much-needed comfort and relief to individuals beginning treatment.
Tricia’s Troops Cancer Connection has come to fill a special role in our community for those who are confronted with the fears, costs, and challenges of a cancer diagnosis and a trusted resource that social workers, nurses, navigators, and other members of a health system’s cancer team turns to when they have patients in need. We truly believe that our efforts combined with the generous support of local individuals, businesses and organizations will enable us to help more patients facing cancer to feel more empowered to press forward in their journey to healing and focus on a happier, more hopeful future knowing they aren’t alone.
A message from the executive director of Tricia’s Troops Cancer Connection
2021 marked the 10-year anniversary of Tricia’s Troops! It was one decade ago that my sister, Tricia, was battling late-stage cancer at just 35 years young, And it was then that she felt a calling to use her journey to help those who would follow with a cancer diagnosis of their own. She felt compelled to harness the power and energy of so many who loved and supported her to make sure others would know the blessings of hope, comfort, caring, and connection in their time of need. And she bravely used her remaining time on Earth to launch this special organization. She had a beautiful vision for what could be, but I don’t think even she could have foreseen how impactful this mission would become.
In 2011, when Tricia’s Troops first got started, we served just seven people. But one by one, our community came to believe in our mission and has generously put their support behind its success. Now, a decade later, we have touched the lives of more than four thousand cancer fighters and their families throughout southeast Wisconsin.
I am profoundly proud and deeply grateful for that. I also know in my heart that we have so much more that we are called to do. As I go to work each day and hear story after deeply personal story of people reaching out for help in the fight for their lives, it can feel a little daunting. I want to be able to help everyone, but how?
Then I look at our logo and I’m reminded of the word at the root of our organization and that is CONNECTION. Cancer connects us all because it affects us all. So if the dream of one woman can spark all that we’ve accomplished so far, just imagine what we can do with the power of hundreds or even thousands of us with a shared connection to care. What good could we create, what burdens could we lift, what prayers could we help answer, and what hope could we instill? Let’s find out!
Tricia made it her life’s mission to make a difference and we can make the choice to do the same. I share her vision for the future of this organization and it’s a beautiful sight. Thank you and God bless you all.