Serpil’s Story of Help and Hope

July 24, 2014

After her husband Lance was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer at age 36, Serpil struggled with how to help her young children cope. “Lance was diagnosed when my daughter Seylan was five and my son Cole was two,” shares Serpil. “The relationship that they had with him was unbelievable. They were so close, so I knew that I needed to find them any type of help. I knew I needed to move and move fast.”

Their daughter Seylan began attending face-to-face counseling sessions with an oncology social worker at CancerCare’s New Jersey office located close to home. “She absolutely connected to the social worker. My husband also needed support and participated in counseling sessions by phone.”

Four years after his diagnosis, Lance passed away. Serpil once again set out to find additional resources to help her children process their grief. “CancerCare was always in the back of my mind. There was a comfort level there, so I reached out when I heard about the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp.”

Serpil and her children attended CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp during the summers of 2013 and 2014. The Camp, located at Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, PA, offers a healing retreat for families coping with the loss of a loved one to cancer. The weekend combines fun activities such as swimming and horseback riding with therapeutic grief activities. The annual free retreat is made possible by dedicated supporters at Eisai.

Releasing a butterfly in Lance’s memory at the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp

“What really touched me was seeing so many kids, who all shared a similar journey, in one place where they could just be free,” recalls Serpil. “I found the camp to be a refuge for them – a happy place. The kids stay in touch through social media and it gives them a sense of community. Very few of their classmates have had that same experience, so it helps them to have peers that understand.”

The family is now focused on healing by keeping Lance’s memory alive. “Every day presents new challenges and new hopes. You learn to live with the loss and you find comfort in memorializing a loved one. I’ve found it important to embrace amazing organizations like CancerCare. They serve as an outlet and an opportunity to connect and to remind us that we are not alone.”

 

 

 


Xiomara and Jaeden’s Story of Help and Hope

July 17, 2014

Xiomara, 46, had never been affected by cancer until her son Jaeden was suddenly diagnosed at age three with ependymoma, a rare type of brain tumor.

“No one in my family had ever had cancer. When you hear about it, it is totally different than when it actually hits your family – especially a toddler,” she explains.

In 2010, Xiomara noticed that Jaeden began frequently stumbling and falling. “One day he was playing on the floor and he looked up at me and his eyes crossed. I thought it was kind of strange. I told myself, now I’m going to look into this and took him to the pediatrician.”

After Jaeden received an MRI, the doctor called to deliver the news. “He kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ When he said the word cancer, I was stunned. He asked me to write down these phone numbers, but I couldn’t write. It is a feeling you just can’t describe. It hits you.”

Jaeden was quickly scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor and spent the following two weeks in the intensive care unit. “It was nerve-racking. My sister came to the hospital and waited 16 hours during the surgery with me. Waiting, waiting and waiting. It was hard on my other two children. My first son couldn’t walk into the room because of the tubes and bandages.”

As part of his treatment plan, Jaeden was transferred to a rehabilitation unit and underwent six weeks of radiation. He also had eye surgery and began outpatient therapy. He will most likely undergo eye surgery in the near future and continues weekly therapy.

Since Jaeden’s diagnosis, Xiomara has received financial assistance through a partnership between CancerCare and The Lavelle Fund. This fund supports programs that help people who are blind and visually impaired lead independent, productive lives.

Jaeden celebrating his seventh birthday

“CancerCare helped me out with medical bills that I had to pay, along with the transportation to vision therapy. If it wasn’t for that I don’t know what I would have done. I’m still struggling as a single parent, but they have helped and I’m very grateful.”

Now seven years old, Jaeden is thriving at school and summer camp. “I’m grateful to know that his tumor is out and that he’s doing as well as he is right now,” says Xiomara. “He’s walking, he’s talking. I still think about it and am still nervous about it. That’s my little angel. He’s a strong little boy.”

 


Families Remember Loved Ones at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp

June 26, 2014

 

Thirty families recently joined together to spend the weekend at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp – a retreat for those coping with the loss of a loved one to cancer. The camp combines fun activities such as swimming and horseback riding with therapeutic grief activities.

“The camp is a place where the families can come together and not feel different. They meet others who have experienced a similar loss and they don’t have to explain anything to one another; they can just come together and have fun,” said Kathy Nugent, MSW, LCSW, CancerCare director of social service. “There are a lot of tears, but there is also so much laughter. They’ve all found new friends – people that understand. Our hope is that they all made a lasting connection.”

This year’s camp featured a butterfly theme, focusing on metamorphosis and healing. Families were given the opportunity to create butterfly collages honoring their loved ones and ended the weekend with a ceremonial butterfly release.

The sixth annual camp was held at Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, PA from June 13 through June 15. The free retreat was made possible by our dedicated supporters at Eisai.

You can view more photos from the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp or watch a video of the song, “Fly Butterfly Fly,” written and performed by Meaghan Farrell, Andy McNamara and teens at the camp.

 


CancerCare Superstar Maddy Shares Her Story of Help and Hope

April 21, 2014

Alyssa and Maddy

Maddy Gold, 13, has quickly become one of CancerCare’s most inspiring advocates by sharing her personal cancer experience. As a result, she has made a remarkable impact on the lives of others.

Maddy began coming to CancerCare at the age of four to receive emotional support after her mother, Alyssa, was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She found it to be a safe space to talk about all of the changes their family was facing.

“I remember that when my mom started losing her hair, I didn’t understand why. My social worker explained to me that the medicine in her body made my mom lose her hair, and as a young child, that made me feel better,” shares Maddy.

In December 2006, Alyssa passed away. Maddy and her younger brother continued visiting their social worker to learn how to cope with their loss and their father joined a weekly bereavement group.

“CancerCare was one of the only places where I could go to escape the sadness of my mom’s cancer and be myself – talking about my true feelings with my social worker who really understood and cared about me and my family and what we were going through.”

In honor of Alyssa, the Gold family formed the walking team “Hearts of Gold” to raise funds for CancerCare’s free support services. Maddy also serves as a volunteer at CancerCare’s New Jersey office and has raised $1,500 by selling awareness bracelets.

Maddy will share her powerful story at the CancerCare 70th Anniversary Celebration Gala on April 23. Learn how you can get involved and support this exciting event and help Maddy’s cause: http://community.cancercare.org/gala.

“My mom got so much support from CancerCare when she was sick and would be so happy that I continue to give back to help other people just like her.”

 

 


CancerCare Advocate Provides Hope for others Affected by Cancer

June 1, 2013

Maddy Gold sharing her story at the CancerCare Festival of Hope Gala

After being deeply impacted by cancer at such a young age, 13-year-old Maddy has become a courageous advocate for CancerCare’s free professional services available to anyone affected by cancer.

Maddy began coming to CancerCare for emotional support at the age of six after her mother, Alyssa, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. “It was important for me to be at CancerCare, because if not, I would have let my nerves and feelings get the best of me,” explained Maddy. “My mom started losing her hair and got a wig. At first I didn’t understand why, but CancerCare once again came to the rescue. They explained to me about the medicine in her body and how it made her lose her hair.”

In December 2006, Alyssa passed away. Maddy and her brother continued coming to CancerCare to learn how to cope with their loss and their father joined a weekly bereavement group.

Determined to give back to the organization that helped her family through their most challenging times, Maddy dedicated her Bat Mitzvah project to providing hope to CancerCare clients. “Because of my experience, I know a lot about cancer. I wanted to contribute my time to talking to or working with children,” she said.

She currently volunteers at the CancerCare New Jersey office each week helping to prepare for the annual Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp. One of her passion projects involves creating a memory lane path where the children can add their fondest memories of a lost loved one. She has also raised over $1,500 by selling CancerCare bracelets and collecting donations through her family’s “Hearts of Gold” walking team.

Maddy continues to inspire CancerCare staff and clients each day with her desire to provide others with help and hope in the face of cancer.


Learn More About CancerCare’s Specialized Services for Men, Women, Children, and Families

September 1, 2011

September is the national awareness month for many different cancer diagnoses:

Leukemia

Explore CancerCare’s leukemia resource page to see the free services we offer for people affected by leukemia, which include a recent revision of a three-part fact sheet series on coping with chronic mylogenous leukemia.

Lymphoma

Our free services include an upcoming Connect Education Workshop series on living with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The first workshop will take place Wednesday, September 14 at 1:30pm EST. Register for the workshop.

Multiple Myeloma

CancerCare’s free resources include our new Connect booklet, Advances in the Treatment for Multiple Myeloma. If you have been diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, you may wish to participate in a free support group for people affected by blood cancers. Learn more and register for this support group.

Prostate Cancer

Register for our upcoming Connect Education Workshop, “Caring for Your Bones When You Have Prostate Cancer” on September 16 at 1:30pm EST.

Ovarian Cancer

Read our new Connect Booklet, Medical Update on Ovarian Cancer. We’ve partnered with L’Oréal Paris and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund on a dedicated telephone counseling and referral service for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. To speak with a professional oncology social worker, call 1‑877‑OV‑HOPE‑1 (1‑877‑684‑6731).

Gynecologic Cancers

Learn more and register for an online support group for people affected by gynecologic cancers.

Thyroid Cancer

Listen to our podcast, “Treatment Update on Thyroid Cancer.”

Childhood Cancers

Learn more about CancerCare’s free services for children diagnosed with cancer. CancerCare also helps children who have a parent, sibling, or other loved one facing cancer. Read our e-booklet, Helping Children When a Family Member has Cancer. 

 


CancerCare Holds Holiday Toy Drive For Children Affected by Cancer

December 14, 2010

CancerCare recently partnered with members of national honor society Phi Beta Kappa for a successful toy drive in New York City. All donated toys will benefit children who participate in CancerCare for Kids, a program that provides free support services for children affected by a cancer diagnosis. 

Phi Beta Kappa members and their family and friends donated dozens of toys, just in time for the holiday season. The event also raised $400 for CancerCare for Kids.

CancerCare Director of Education and Training Carolyn Messner, DSW, suggested coordinating the toy drive during a recent Phi Beta Kappa chapter meeting.

Learn more about CancerCare for Kids.

[pictured above: CancerCare's Carolyn Messner [l] and Rosalie Canosa [r] showcase donated toys]


Elizabeth Edwards: Champion for People Everywhere Facing Cancer

December 9, 2010

 From Helen H. Miller, LCSW, CancerCare CEO:

We mourn the loss of Elizabeth Edwards, who died on Dec. 7 from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 61.  An accomplished lawyer, political advisor and the wife of a former US senator (who was also a vice presidential candidate and, briefly, presidential candidate), Edwards will be remembered in part for the tragedies and personal struggles in her later years that played out so publicly and painfully on the national stage. More enduring, however, is the legacy of her courage and activism on behalf of all people facing cancer. 

Elizabeth Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and was successfully treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But in 2007, her cancer returned and was found to have spread. Edwards described her diagnosis as treatable, but “no longer curable.”

Still, this did little to slow her down. She became an inspirational figure to anyone facing cancer, especially an advanced-stage diagnosis.  As the mother of an adult daughter and two young children, she was candid about discussing her diagnosis with them, and in numerous interviews with the press emphasized the importance of talking to children honestly and openly, in language they can understand, about cancer.

“I think the most important thing — and the younger the member of your family is, the more important it is — is that you be incredibly honest, even though you might be giving a grammar school explanation of something,” Edwards told WebMD in an interview last year. “At least when your children look back on what you said to them, they will know that you were honest with them.”

Elizabeth Edwards exemplified the resilience and spirit we at CancerCare see everyday in the individuals and families we serve. She was a true champion of people of all ages and from all walks of life who, like her, face cancer with courage and with hope, and live their lives accordingly.

She will be greatly missed.

**

 If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an advanced or recurring cancer, CancerCare recommends:

Communicate with your doctor. The question of prognosis, that is, how long one may have to live with advanced cancer, is one that some people want to ask and others do not. However, it may be possible for a doctor to provide information regarding a time frame that could be helpful in terms of decision-making regarding treatment choices, planning for future care, financial decisions and how to spend your time. Read more about practicing doctor/patient communication in the CancerCare publication, Communicating with your Health Care Team.

“Incurable” does not mean “untreatable.” There are treatments that can control or slow down cancer from growing or spreading to other parts of the body. In this way, a cancer that cannot currently be cured can still be treated.

Define hope and meaning for yourself. A recurrence of cancer requires that you define hope in a more varied and complex way. Recurrence is a time to revisit those decisions and more specifically think about the quality of your life and what that means to you. Most important is how your doctor, family, and friends can help you maintain what you define as quality living. Read more in the publication, Coping with Cancer: Tools to Help You Live

Talk openly with your children. Conversations about advanced cancer can feel particularly complicated where children are concerned. The best thing you can do for your children during this difficult time is to talk to them about your recurrence and their feelings. Learn more in our publication, Helping Children Understand Cancer: Talking to Your Kids About Your Diagnosis.


Popular New York Caterer Supports CancerCare Bake Sale to Benefit Kids’ Program

September 23, 2010

Dozens of busy executives were spotted cradling cupcakes in their hands while rushing off to business meetings and appointments this afternoon in the lobby of CancerCare‘s New York City headquarters. The cause of this flurry of frosting was a bake sale held by CancerCare that raised nearly $300 to support our CancerCare for Kids program. 

Team CancerCare L to R: Kyle Hornyak, Monica Cavazos Mendez, and Lindsay Osborn

The delicious and lavishly decorated cupcakes were generously catered by David Ziff Cooking, Inc.  

 

The bake sale was part of our ongoing Cupcakes for a Cause fundraiser benefiting CancerCare for Kids, a specialized program that provides free, professional support services designed to help children and parents deal with the emotional and practical concerns of a cancer diagnosis, whether it’s the child’s, the parent’s or that of another family member. 

You can support this vital program by hosting a bake sale of your own. It’s easy– simply download a free, easy to use toolkit from our website to get started. 

You can also visit a participating bakery and purchase a cupcake this week, with proceeds from the purchase benefiting CancerCare for Kids. We’ll even help you find a participating bakery near you.  

To learn more, visit www.cupcakesforacause.org.


This Week, Visit a Local Bakery to Support Kids and Families Affected by Cancer

September 20, 2010

Today marks the start of Cupcakes for a Cause Week, which means there’s no better time to indulge in some “sweet” fundraising.

It’s easy to show your support from now until September 26th—simply visit one of the more than 700 participating bakeries and purchase a cupcake.  A portion of proceeds from the sale will be donated to CancerCare for Kids. 

We’ll even help you find a bakery in your neighborhood!

To learn more, visit www.cupcakesforacause.org