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Community raises funds for Pierrepont woman’s cancer treatment

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PIERREPONT — When Sally M. Long was diagnosed with lung cancer in January, the communities of Pierrepont, Potsdam and Canton came together to help her pay for expensive travel costs and co-pays. A fundraising jamboree will be held Saturday for her benefit at the Pierrepont Fire Hall.

“She’s very happy-go-lucky. She’s a wonderful grandmother to four,” said Jenny L. Tower, the second of Ms. Long’s four children. Ms. Long’s two youngest, both teenagers, still live with her in Pierrepont.

She first began showing symptoms in March. Doctors first diagnosed her with angioedema, a disease that causes rapid swelling and can create breathing difficulties.

She was treated until November, when she suffered an extreme allergic reaction to medicine she was taking to treat bronchitis. Her kidneys shut down, nearly killing her.

“We were losing her, and then she pulled through,” Ms. Tower said.

After her close call, doctors began performing tests. In January, they discovered a malignant tumor in her right lung. Ms. Long did not have angioedema, she had cancer, and she had gone nearly a year without proper treatment.

She has since had 10 days of radiation treatments at the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Center for Cancer Care, Potsdam, and the early results are promising. The radiation shrank the tumor, which had been putting pressure on her windpipe.

Ms. Long began the first of six chemotherapy sessions at Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., on Feb. 7. She will return every three weeks.

She has health insurance, but expensive co-pays and regular trips to Burlington are taking their toll financially.

Her family and friends decided look to the community for help.

The jamboree will begin at 11 a.m. at the Pierrepont Fire Hall. Tickets are $2 at the door, and free for children younger than 10.

Everything came together quickly. The family began working on the event only three days ago. Ms. Tower has been the main organizer, but she lives at Tupper Lake and has needed plenty of help to get everything ready on time.

“It was tough being in Tupper Lake and not being able to put it together,” she said. “I’ve had lots of help from friends and family. The Elks in Potsdam have been a huge help.”

Ms. Long worked as the assistant manager for the Potsdam Elks Lodge for 10 years before her health problems forced her to stay home.

“All the people miss her. She’s a personal friend of mine,” said Steven E. Miles, manager at the lodge.

Her fellow Elks have kicked in to help organize the jamboree and raise money to help pay her costs.

“It’s a bad situation all around, but we’re OK. We’re getting a lot of donations in,” Mr. Miles said.

The jamboree will have live music, a bar, food, auctions and door prizes. The community has donated whatever it can to the auctions.

“There are just an amazing amount of gift baskets and gift certificates from all over Potsdam and Canton,” Ms. Tower said.

Approximately 200 people are expected to attend, according to Ms. Tower. A Facebook page for the event shows 150 have sent in their RSVPs so far.

Ms. Long plans to attend the jamboree Saturday.

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