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Arizona organization helping cancer victims struggling to continue

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The head of Valley-based nonprofit group Face in the Mirror says her faith in God is being tested.

For nine years, the group she leads has offered help to local cancer patients and lifted their spirits. After helping, Barbara MacLean estimates, more than 25,000 people, the days of makeovers and tea parties could be numbered.

"Just because you feel bad, you don't have to look bad and it makes you feel better," said three-time cancer survivor Keenah Whisnant, who nominated MacLean for CBS5's Pay It Forward series.

Face in the Mirror was born out of MacLean's interactions with her cancer stricken sister in 2001. MacLean vowed to her sister, who died shortly after, that she would help women maintain their beauty and dignity while sitting at, perhaps, their lowest point confined to a hospital bed.

"She has a heart of gold and she is like a Godsend," said Whisnant.

"We've been giving to so many patients and we never expect a patient to give back," said MacLean.

MacLean calls her 100 volunteers a small group doing mighty work. The organization offers free makeovers for women in several local area hospitals.

Every month, St. Joseph's Hospital offers a room and catering for the group to put on a tea party where the women can socialize and share their stories with one another.

"It made me feel like I was at home and I was surrounded by people who can relate to what I'm going through," said Whisnant, who discovered the group last year when a volunteer paid her a visit in the hospital.

It was at the most recent tea party on Wednesday when CBS5 and MacLean's family and friends paid her a surprise visit to offer her $500 as part of the Pay it Forward series.

Turns out, the CBS5 visit was fortuitous because the organization is struggling to survive.

"We don't go out and have fundraisers. We just believe it's gonna come," said MacLean. "If we get funds, we will continue. If we don't, it goes away."

Wiping away tears after Whisnant had presented her with the money, MacLean was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support.

"I didn't have a clue. Thank you for doing that," she told Whisnant. "You have no idea how much we need it right now. Maybe God is sending me a signal. You're not done yet!"

For donations and more information about the group, navigate to the Face in the Mirror web site here.

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