Man burns American flag flying outside Richmond home

LINC connects cancer patients with much needed help

RICHMOND, Va. -- The fight against cancer is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting – and it’s also expensive. The last thing that patients and their loved ones want to deal with is money issues.

Many get overwhelmed when it comes to all the legal and financial consequences of fighting cancer, but a local group’s sole purpose is to help patients and their families navigate these difficult hurdles.

The fight against cancer is not only a tough battle for the patient, but their loved ones as well and when most of the energy is focused on beating the disease, sometimes other things fall by the wayside.

LINC or Legal Information Network for Cancer is a Richmond-based non-profit that connects cancer patients and their families with legal and financial advice; from drawing up a will, navigating Social Security to figuring out power of attorney.

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Fran Pugh misses her big brother, Jim, every day.

“You can`t take back the smiles and the laughter,” she says.

The 57-year-old Mechanicsville native died in September after battling his second bout of cancer.

“It was in his lungs,” she said. “It came back with a vengeance. There was no going back with that.”

But before he passed, Fran and her brother found comfort in strangers.

“We got on the phone and they are like, `We got this. We got this,’” Fran recalls.

LINC`s Executive Director, Denise Kranich, says no family should shoulder the stress of money issues and mounds of paper work when their relative is trying to get healthy.

“Seeing a smile on someone`s face,’ he said. “Knowing that we`re helping one person makes me happy with what I`m doing.”

“You`re confused,” he said. “You`re heartsick.”

“You want to hug your loved one. You don`t want to deal with these things. But that is what these people do.”

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Fran, who served as her brother`s caregiver says the staff and volunteers at LINC are nothing short of saints.

“It took 90 percent of the burden off of me,” she said.

Denise identifies with clients who walk through LINC`s door. A decade ago, Denise was diagnosed but beat the dreaded disease.

“When I got cancer I had this funny feeling deep down inside that I would be working with cancer patients and helping them,” she said.

Denise said that in addition to legal help, support at LINC comes on four paws.

The office mascot Lincoln greets clients with a wag of the tail and wet nose.

“When clients come in they like to see him,” she says. “He puts a smile on their face.”

Fran is still grieving over the loss of her big brother, but she finds comfort knowing his journey to the other side was eased by the unconditional love from her friends at LINC.

“I can`t say enough about what kind of compassion these people have and what an awesome service that they provide,” she says.

Nominate someone for the “Heroes Among Us” segment by emailing reporter Greg McQuade.