KIRKLAND, Wash. - When it comes to cancer, it does not discriminate where it takes up residence. Battling the disease is bad enough but there is also a financial burden hanging over many survivors. That’s where several local women are swooping in, trying to lessen the load.
For Jennifer Carlson, getting outside the house to walking around the block was something she couldn’t do just 6 weeks ago.
In January, the 49-year-old got the devastating diagnosis that she had cancer.
"Colorectal surgeon told me he found a mass in my anal canal," Carlson said.
The chemo, the pain, the fight followed for the mother of 4.
"You are changed drastically, every part of you comes out different on the other side," Carlson said.
Carlson is now weeks away from hopefully, getting test results back that will confirm she is finally cancer-free.
As she waits, she must tackle $10,000 in medical bills something Carlson says she accrued even with good insurance.
"A thousand dollars is like a million dollars right now," Carlson said.
That’s why you could say it was fortuitous timing when Carlson saw Q13’s Mom to Mom segment.
"I just happened to hear what they were talking about, grabbed my pen and pencil real quick and got the website down," Carlson said.
Information jotted down that eventually led to $1,000 in donations to pay off some of Carlson’s medical bills.
"They were amazing to help and what they are doing for patients everywhere all over," Carlson said.
The women bringing Carlson to tears are several Western Washington women who are also all cancer survivors.
"We’ve taken something awful of having cancer and turned it into something good," Kerry Solmonsen said.
Solmonsen and sisters Shelly and Katy Tinny have donated around $80,000 already to people in need by using fashion to fight cancer.
One of the main ways they come up with money is to ask people for luxury fashion donations. Everything from purses to clothes to accessories.
"To resell them and 100% of those go directly into the hands of people," Solmonsen said.
They’ve named their cause ‘The Cancer Cartel’.
"We want to give away $11 million," Katy Tinny said.
Katy says that is the goal to give away $11 million per year.
Their ambitious mission is now attracting businesses to partner with them.
Fashwire CEO Kimberly Carney says for every download of the Fashwire and Glosswire app, $1 will be donated to Cancer Cartel in the month of May.
"Just when you meet them, you just can’t even match it, their passion," Carney said.
Carlson felt that too about the Cancer Cartel founders.
"Within 5 minutes of having a conversation we were sisters," Carlson said.
"Money is one thing but the connection we are making with Jennifer is amazing," Shelly Tinny said.
That connection now inspiring Carlson to find her own way to give back to others battling cancer.
"I had a complete epiphany if it’s the last thing I do I need to help people," Carlson said.
Because if there is anything cancer has taught her it’s this.
"All of the outside noise, the controversy, the stress I don’t see that anymore, I see what really needs to be seen and that’s living life," Carlson said.
Carlson says living life means never taking a moment for granted.
If you don’t have any luxury fashion item to donate, the group says monetary donations are also appreciated.
The Cancer Cartel ladies can be reached at email@example.com