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Originally published: 2013-10-24 10:31:18
Last modified: 2013-10-24 10:32:03

Seby B. Jones Cancer Center benefits from breast cancer awareness donation

Giving back to help a cause that's close to the hearts of customers and employees is what "Fueling the Fight" is all about for Blue Ridge Energies, the propane subsidiary of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation.

"Breast cancer has touched the lives of most everyone in some way, and for the past 12 months, Blue Ridge Energies has delivered propane in trucks with the breast cancer pink paint design to show support for breast cancer awareness and raise funds at the same time," Blue Ridge Energies officials said. 

This month, local breast cancer-related charities are the recipients of the yearlong effort that started last October when Blue Ridge Energies began designating a penny for every gallon of propane delivered by the pink trucks to area homes and businesses.

BRE employees say they are proud to drive the trucks and, by doing so, hope to make a statement to the local communities that they are honoring area friends and family who have been touched by cancer.

One such case is Amy Michael of Watauga County, who has fought a battle with breast cancer since April 2012. 

Today, Michael has no evidence of disease. 

"As far as prognosis, I am 'cured,' and I try not to think about much further than that," Michael said.Even though she was fearful and faced surgery and rounds of treatment, she said she made a pact with God that she would make it her mission to help raise awareness of breast cancer. 

"People are not comfortable talking about breast cancer,"  she said. "We need to not be afraid to talk to someone who looks different -- people still stare and whisper because people are fearful. It's OK to ask how you're doing. It is my mission to give back, because the support of family, friends and a loving community helped get me through the tough times. How could I not continue this journey and reach out to make it easier on other women?" 

Michael has met with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System staff to provide input on enhancements to the cancer center, talked with fifth graders at Cove Creek Elementary and recently spoke at Cannon Hospital for "Pink Day." 

"We have a lot of work to do, but some great things are happening, and what Blue Ridge Energies is doing by donating locally to the cancer center will impact the patients directly. We need to get our community to remember that it takes all of us to improve things locally and it all adds up," Michael said.

In Watauga County, Appalachian Regional Healthcare's Seby B. Jones Cancer Center is the recipient of $4,161 from Blue Ridge Energies. 

According to the center director, Sandi Cassidy, the donation will be used to help provide breast cancer patients with physical therapy, imaging studies and medical support items such as lymphedema sleeves and mastectomy bras.

Local organizations such as the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center help breast cancer patients through difficult, often frightening, times. 

"We are so fortunate to have an organization like the cancer center serving local residents," said Glenda Christian, chief operating officer of Blue Ridge Energies. 

"That's why we're proud to support this effort and to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by this disease. This has been a year of constant awareness for those of us at Blue Ridge Energies. Seeing the pink truck leave our parking lot each day has been a strong reminder of the fight at hand faced by so many people in our communities," Christian said.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare's Seby B. Jones Cancer Center has a cancer resource alliance designated to breast cancer It was established in 2006 to empower cancer survivors and their loved ones to be active partners in their healing journey.  

For more information, call (828) 268-9051 or visit AppRhs.org.

Blue Ridge Energies LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation that provides propane and heating fuels to residential and commercial customers in northwest North Carolina. 

During Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, Blue Ridge Energies is making donations to breast cancer awareness and prevention charities in Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Caldwell counties. For more information, visit BlueRidgeEnergies.com.