Those battling cancer find help from friends, strangers through crowdfunding

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan 28, 2015) – We hear about it more often now, crowdfunding for a cause. Companies like “GoFundMe” offer platforms to create free websites, where friends and even strangers can donate to specific people or events.

GoFundMe representatives say about $2 million gets donated every day through the site now. The fastest growing category is medical causes, and it's helped people in our area like Heather Densmore.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was here at work," said Densmore. "I couldn't believe it, I just fell to my knees."

At just 29 years old, she was told she had breast cancer and needed to start chemo as soon as possible. Medical bills started piling-up -- $300,000 worth of bills in about four months’ time. Her sister, Brooke Kwasny, wanted to help, so she created a page on GoFundMe for Heather.

“We were able to share her story, and in a matter of a few clicks, it was circulating on social media,” Kwasny said.

The website has also been helpful for Stephanie Scarbrough, who created a page for her sister Denise Irwin. Scarbrough lives in Indianapolis, but her sister, who is battling Stage 3 cervical caner, now lives in California.

“Her treatment would likely mean she wouldn't be able to have a child, and that scared her,” Scarbrough explained about her sister.

Aside from cancer treatments, Stephanie says fertility treatments will cost Denise another $15,000, but the GoFundMe page has allowed her, and others, to help from miles away.

“It’s been amazing; so far we've raised $7,000,” Scarbrough said.

Within the past four years, GoFundMe representatives say the website has raised about $680 million through about 9 million donars, and pages with medical causes have grown by about 294 percent from 2013 to 2014, with those numbers continuously increasing.

GoFundMe charges a 5 percent fee on all transactions – the rest goes to the person who created the page.

"It's very quick; we can see the funds in our account within a week of someone donating,” Kwasny said.

Both women battling cancer – Denise and Heather – have different surgeries scheduled in February.

If you’d like to donate to help them, here are the links to their pages:

Heather

Denise