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Paula’s Purse helps cancer patients keep food on the table during treatment

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Learning you have cancer is a devastating diagnosis patients face. Not only the fear of the disease and treatment but also the financial burden. Not just for the patient but the entire family.

Enter Paula’s Purse.

Paula Tower

It’s named after Paula Tower, a Gundersen Health System Mammography Technologist who worked in the Center for Breast Care until she lost her battle with cancer 16 years ago.

Nikki Pfeifer was able to stay in her home after her breast cancer diagnosis caused a huge financial strain on her family because of Paula’s Purse.

Throughout her treatment, Nikki put on a brave face and wore a big smile but it doesn’t mean she wasn’t worried about providing for her family after her hours at work were cut.

Nikki Pfeifer

Paula’s Purse helped Nikki put food on the table and stay in her home. Janette Dawson is one of three social workers at Gundersen assigned to help cancer patients. She assisted Nikki with everything from contacting her insurance company to caring for her emotional and spiritual needs.

“Nikki has an amazing attitude and we know that that makes a difference in how people get through this. If people have good support: support at home, support in the community. All those things make their ability to get through a treatment,” said Dawson.

Nikki says she is forever grateful to both Dawson and Paula’s Purse. “She helped me with finding support groups which led me to meeting other people and open doors for me in that area. she helped me apply for the financial assistance for Paula’s Purse. I didn’t even know it existed until she told me. She got the ball rolling for that and helped me fill out all the paperwork and really made the process really smooth,” said Pfeifer.

You can help people like Nikki by donating to Paula’s Purse or you can attend Rock That Purse! Saturday February 2 at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets are $15 at the door, $10 in advance.

100 percent of the money raised at Rock That Purse! stays local.

For more information go to


Heather Armstrong

Heather anchors Live at 5 and co-anchors the weekday 6 & 10 PM newscasts

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