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Published December 12, 2011, 04:57 PM

Grand Forks Woman Starts Foundation to Help Cancer Survivors

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A Grand Forks woman is starting a foundation to help cancer survivors’ deal with emotions of the deadly disease. Ashley Johnson saw a need after being diagnosed with cancer.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A Grand Forks woman is starting a foundation to help cancer survivors’ deal with emotions of the deadly disease. Ashley Johnson saw a need after being diagnosed with cancer.

It's been three years since Ashley Johnson was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. She was fortunate in that the cancerous mole and skin around it were removed. But Johnson says the fear of cancer will be with her for life.

"The emotional effects tend to get over looked and ignored and they are just not dealt with properly,” Johnson said.

Shortly after her diagnosis, Johnson worked to create skin cancer awareness for young people.

"Besides just going out and raising awareness, I really wanted to get to the core of what cancer survivors were dealing with and that was the emotional struggles," Johnson said.

That is why Johnson is creating the Cope Well Foundation. The goal is to provide emotional support to those who have or once had cancer. That will include free professional counseling.

"Bringing people together into one unified support team; to Support the cancer community,” Johnson said.

She's put together a foundation that consists of members who have been closely affected by cancer.

“Just dealing with it. Having cancer and going through treatment and have your life be disrupted the way the way that it can be," Cope Well board member Sheena Helmstepler said.

“After my dad passed away, I went to therapy and I wouldn't be the same person I am today if I wouldn't have done that,” Cope Well board member Sara Carlson said.

Johnson's ultimate goal is to grow the foundation and expand to surrounding communities.

"There are maybe national organizations that offer the same kind of support that we do. But nothing that is truly local that is doing as effectively as we are," Johnson said.

The Cope Well Foundation will officially begin January 1.

To learn more, go to copewell.org

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