Sue’s Story of Help and Hope

September 25, 2014

Sue with and her children Emily and Andy

Sue began advocating for emotional support after her husband, Rob, advanced to stage 4 melanoma in 2009. He’d been at stage 3 for almost three years, long enough for his doctor to be optimistic and for the family to feel more confident about the future. The news, received in the emergency room where he’d been taken in response to a seizure, came as a huge blow. In the weeks and months that followed, Rob desperately wanted counseling to help him cope.

“I wish I’d known about CancerCare sooner,” said Sue. “I spent whole days identifying and taking Rob to psychologists within his health plan, but we found that none of them understood his emotional state.”

She was ultimately referred to CancerCare for her own support. “When I finally learned about the CancerCare phone and online caregiver support groups, I seized them like a lifeline and was rewarded with both coping skills and lifelong friendships.”

But Rob, by then very advanced, could not manage counseling by phone. When he passed away in 2010, Sue again sought out resources to help her and their children Emily and Andy, then ages six and three, process and heal through the difficult time. That’s when she learned the CancerCare New Jersey office was nearby. She says it was life-changing.

Sue began receiving in-person bereavement counseling. She and her children also attended the Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp, picnics, holiday parties and other activities.

Andy at CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp

“I think bereavement therapy is important for both the kids and the surviving spouse. The CancerCare family program was incredibly supportive for us. We benefited from group activities where we all shared our experiences and were guided by the counselors,” says Sue. “Emily told me several times it meant a lot that she could talk with and play with other kids who had also lost a parent. It was hard for her to interact with kids at school who didn’t understand, and she felt removed from them; different. I think it gave Andy words to express his loss in preschool.”

For families facing similar challenges, Sue suggests taking time to be together as a family and create special memories together. She also stresses the importance of managing the continuum of care, asking others for help when necessary, and having a sense of humor even during the hard times. “It’s critical to hang together as a family unit. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help and to accept it! And whenever things get stressful, try not to lose your sense of humor and perspective.”

“We have healed and grown, basking in the warmth and support of CancerCare’s wonderful, caring staff and the ability to share with other families in similar situations. CancerCare continues to be part of our lives as we move into a new role, drawing on our experiences to help other families embarking on this journey.”

In Rob’s honor, Sue formed Team Chevrier to raise critical funds for anyone affected by cancer in the CancerCare Walk/Run for Hope in Paramus, New Jersey. Learn more or donate to Sue’s team by visiting http://community.cancercare.org/robswalk


Family Brings Holiday Cheer and Hope to Anyone Affected by Cancer

September 17, 2014

The Facilla’s home

John and Josephine Facilla have decorated their Long Island home for the past 35 holiday seasons. The display started off small and has grown to include more than 10,000 lights and an elaborate Santa’s Workshop.

“Decorating brings our family and the community together. Usually after Halloween I start putting the display up and I go crazy,” said John.

Josephine, a three-time cancer survivor, and her husband wanted to spread holiday cheer as well as make a difference for a cause close to their hearts.

Left to right: Josephine Facilla, John Facilla, Hunter Brignoli, Tom Brignoli, Donna-Marie Brignoli, Sophia Facilla, John A. Facilla, Ava Facilla, Denise Facilla, and in the arms of Donna-Marie, Charli and Brooke Brignoli.

 

“We had the inspiration to do something big for the holidays one year,” said Josephine. “Our neighbor was very sick with cancer and someone gave them the number for CancerCare. It was unbelievable. They gave them everything and anything that they needed. It was like nothing we’d ever seen before, so we decided that was the route we were taking.”

For more than 20 years, the Facilla’s display has featured a collection box for donations, with proceeds going directly to CancerCare’s free support services. They have since raised more than $10,000 for people affected by cancer.

“We have people come that have cancer, so I can talk with them and relate,” says Josephine.

The Facilla family adds something new to the display each year, but the mission of the project remains the same – to bring cheer to the community and to make a difference in the lives of people with cancer.

 


O’Neill’s Irish Pub Golf Outing Raises $175,000 for People Affected by Cancer

September 2, 2014

Ollie O’Neill moved to the states from Dublin in 1995 and pursued his dream of bringing the Irish pub culture to his new hometown, Norwalk, CT. He opened O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day of 1999. Not only did he want to provide authentic food and drinks to the community, Ollie also wanted make a lasting difference in the lives of people affected by cancer.

Ollie O’Neill at this year’s event.

“I initially wanted to do something for CancerCare because my sister was diagnosed with leukemia when she was nine,” said Ollie. “We all felt that this was a cause we wanted to help because CancerCare was right here in town and we’d heard about some of the great services. I feel that if we had had these services when we found out about my sister’s diagnosis, it would have helped quite a bit.”

In 2007, O’Neill’s Irish Pub established the first annual Golf Outing. Ollie and his team of supporters have raised an astonishing $175,000 over the past 15 years.

“We figured it was a good way to get the community involved and give back. Get out there and play, eat, drink and have fun for a good cause,” said Ollie. “It is amazing. All we do is host the event and invite people to participate. They just want to contribute. I’ve sold out every year.”

“The event that O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant hosts each year to benefit CancerCare makes a discernible difference in the lives of people affected by cancer in the Norwalk community and beyond,” said Regional Director of the CancerCare Connecticut Office Sandra Tripodi, LCSW, ACSW. “Whether it is a person who is in need of a wig, a child who is struggling to make sense of what cancer means in their family, or someone in need of financial assistance to address treatment related barriers, we depend upon our community of support to make our free services available.”

Are interested in making a difference in the lives of people facing cancer? Get your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and community involved in supporting CancerCare‘s free services through Team CancerCare. There is no limit to the kinds of events you can organize.

 

 

 


AVONCares Provides Help for Women Facing Cancer

August 18, 2014

Cancer treatment not only includes medical expenses, but also practical costs such as transportation to and from treatment, home care and child care. Thanks to AVONCares, a partnership between CancerCare and the Avon Foundation for Women, financial assistance and other services have been made available to underserved women facing cancer in all 50 states. Over the past 14 years, AVONCares has provided more than $21.6 million to help these women cope with cancer.

The financial impact of a cancer diagnosis is oftentimes overlooked and under-discussed. The inability to go to work and provide for one’s family, paired with medical and practical costs, can result in patients feeling lost and unsure of where to turn for help.

From Kathleen, a recent AVONCares grant recipient: “I never dreamed I would be in this position of being diagnosed with cancer and asking for help, because I was always the one giving to others. God bless you and your organization for your kindness.”

Support for this program is made possible by funds raised through the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Series.

Remember to reach out for support—medical debt can cause emotional stress, but there are resources available to provide relief. Learn more about CancerCare’s financial assistance services.

 


CancerCare Board of Trustees Appoints New President, Michael Parisi

July 1, 2014

CancerCare is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Parisi as President of its Board of Trustees.

Mr. Parisi is currently Managing Partner of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, the health care division of Ogilvy and Mather. For more than two decades, he has been at the forefront of the global health care marketing arena with an intense focus on oncology.

“I am proud to be involved with CancerCare, an organization that has provided high touch, free professional services to hundreds of thousands of people coping with a cancer diagnosis,” said Mr. Parisi. “Over the past 70 years, CancerCare has provided services that have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the cancer community. That said, as the U.S. health care system is currently in a state of rapid and complete transformation, the need for CancerCare’s services has never been in greater demand. I’m excited to have a proven leader in CEO Patricia Goldsmith to help lead this great organization through this critically important period of growth and evolution.”

While in graduate school, Mr. Parisi followed his passion for helping people affected by cancer and other illnesses and became a trained hospice counselor and end-of-life coach. He remains actively involved with the cancer community and has been a dedicated supporter of CancerCare for the past 15 years.

“The Board of Trustees has selected an ideal President in Michael Parisi, who will lead CancerCare into its eighth decade of service,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “Michael’s commitment to the oncology community and dedication to CancerCare’s mission makes him an invaluable asset to the organization. His creativity, passion and professional experience will allow us to continue to expand our unique service offerings and, most importantly, serve more people affected by cancer than ever before.”

In his new role, Mr. Parisi succeeds Susan S. Smirnoff, who was appointed Board President in 2010. Ms. Smirnoff has been a member of CancerCare’s Board of Trustees since 2004.

“Under Susan’s leadership, CancerCare has evolved with the ever-changing needs of people facing a cancer diagnosis,” said Ms. Goldsmith. “Her profound contributions and dedication to our mission has elevated the organization to an expansive national platform.”

Mr. Parisi is joined by 30 fellow Board Members who provide fiscal and strategic oversight of the national nonprofit. Their leadership plays a pivotal role in allowing the organization to directly serve more than 170,000 people affected by cancer across the nation each year.

 

 


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.

 


Celebrating 70 Years of Service with our Founding Family

June 11, 2014

CancerCare‘s founding family

As CancerCare celebrates 70 years of providing help and hope to anyone affected by cancer, we feel it is important to reflect on where it all began and to honor the vision of our founding family.

Julius Jay Perlmutter, a lifelong philanthropist, experienced the devastating impact of cancer firsthand when his parents were both diagnosed and lost their lives thirteen weeks apart in 1938. In attempting to get quality care for his parents, Julius quickly learned that no facilities existed to help middle-class patients with advanced cancer.

This experience motivated Julius to create CancerCare, a nonprofit organization that would help people diagnosed with cancer and their families by accepting patient referrals and providing a low-cost private room and bath.

“It is so important for people to know that CancerCare is out there and that information is available, that help is available. CancerCare has helped millions of people financially,” said Julius’ daughter, Regina Goldstein.

Regina Goldstein, daughter of CancerCare founder Julius Jay Perlmutter

All of us at CancerCare are grateful to Julius Jay Perlmutter and his family for their commitment to giving back to those in need. It is a testament to his long-term vision that CancerCare continues to expand our services as our clients are faced with new financial and practical challenges. Much has changed since 1944, but our mission remains the same: to provide help and hope to anyone affected by cancer.


CancerCare Social Workers Shine at the AOSW Annual Conference

June 5, 2014

Allison Nilsen, LMSW presenting at AOSW

A dynamic team of six CancerCare oncology social work team members presented at this year’s Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) Annual Conference. AOSW is a non-profit, international organization dedicated to the enhancement of psychosocial services to people with cancer and their families.

More than 500 oncology social work professionals gathered in Baltimore, Maryland for the conference on May 28-30, 2014. CancerCare presenters included Maria Chi, LCSW; Elizabeth Ezra, LCSW, OSW-C; William Goeren, LCSW-R; Carly Mesavitz, LCSW, OSW-C; Carolyn Messner, DSW, OSW-C, LCSW-R and Allison Nilsen, LMSW.

CancerCare presentations and posters were given on a variety of topics, including:

• Feeling Whole Again: The Role of Social Work Intervention During a Wig and Breast Prosthesis Fitting

• Finding Hope Beyond the Pall of a Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis: What Can We Do to Help?

• Oncology Social Work Field Education: An Insider’s Perspective

• Support Group for Older Gay Men with Cancer – Clinical Issues and Overview

• Training the Next Generation of Leaders in Oncology Social Work

Elizabeth Ezra, LCSW, OSW-C presents on pancreatic cancer

Created in 1984 by social workers interested in oncology and by existing national cancer organizations, AOSW is an expanding force of psychosocial oncology professionals. The annual meeting serves as a wonderful opportunity to advance the field of oncology social work, as well as to highlight the important work conducted by CancerCare’s social workers.

 

 

 

 

 


Coping with Lung Cancer: Arlene’s Story

May 27, 2014

Arlene visiting the CancerCare Wig Clinic

During a routine annual check-up with her physician, Arlene C. learned that after 15 years in remission, her lung cancer had returned. “The cancer had come back – an aggressive one. Surgery and chemo. That’s when it all began,” shared Arlene.

Arlene knew that chemo meant she would likely lose her hair and she wanted to prepare herself for the physical change and the accompanying emotions she might experience. Her daughter-in-law mentioned that CancerCare had resources that could help.

After making an appointment at the New York City-based CancerCare Wig Clinic, Arlene and a friend met with an oncology social worker to discuss her treatment and the challenges she was facing. She was also fitted for her new wig and given a care package to help her through the next few months.

“I went to CancerCare and was treated royally,” said Arlene. “I was expecting the hair loss, but it was still a shock to my system. But I didn’t make myself or anyone else nuts over it and, before I turned around, I had hair again.”

Arlene was touched by the care she received and made a donation to the organization and wrote a poem about her experience. “I made a donation in honor of the CancerCare staff who just made my day in many ways with their caring and comfort.”

 

“Daze of Chemo”

By Arlene C.

The doctor called, “We have to talk”

I set the date to learn my fate

Aggressive cancer

Surgery then chemo

The next step was to embark with my children Susan and Mark

Where to go for my chemo?

Mark thought I should be closer to him in Sag Harbor for treatments

But we let that rest and went with the alternative that was best

The calendar was marked for the days, the hours, but not my mind or body

Mark and Susan were with me all the way

I made a promise I couldn’t sway or betray

Where do I begin?

The daze of chemo was upon me

I was never good at acting

But in the end I knew I was going to win a trophy as the best robot

Where do I begin?

My battle began with anxiety, brain loss – especially names

Stomach problems, low blood pressure

All of this caused by the very strong dosage given

However they changed the recipe and I was cooking again

And then the crowing glory

I lost all my hair

Susan bought me a hat

CancerCare gave me a wig

And I amassed some turbans, etc.

Everyday became a chore

Trying to match headwear with outfits

The one good perk was I didn’t have to buy shampoo

Six months later, after two PET scans, I’m clean

Is there anything else to do but thank God and all my friends that prayed for me?

Not done yet

I had my own unveiling

Tossed the turbans, etc. and showed my head off

Everyone loved my new hair do

I truly felt I went from being a robot to queen for a day

 


Grant from The Horizon Foundation For New Jersey will Bring Cancer Services to Underserved Populations

May 20, 2014

 

 

CancerCare has received a $35,000 grant from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. The grant will fund CancerCare’s project, Early Detection and Education Program for Underserved Individuals in Newark.

The project aims to bring professional services to the local community and raise awareness on the importance of screening for breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancers. Free educational workshops, led by Spanish-speaking social workers, will be provided throughout Newark and the surrounding Essex County areas.

On-site cancer screenings will be available at select sites. Participants will also have direct access to CancerCare’s professional support services, including financial assistance and counseling.

“The need for expert, no cost cancer prevention and early detection services is growing. Through this generous grant from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, CancerCare will be able to effectively reach even more underserved populations,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “A growing body of evidence demonstrates that a lack of knowledge about cancer risk factors can hinder early diagnosis. Early diagnosis leads to the best possible outcomes at the lowest cost. This project will allow our organization to bring critical information and services to hundreds of individuals in the community that might otherwise face a diagnosis without much needed support services.”

CancerCare’s continued partnership with The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey will address language, cultural and psychological barriers that traditionally prevent underserved individuals from obtaining regular cancer screenings.

“We are delighted to support CancerCare,” said Jonathan R. Pearson, Executive Director of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is dedicated to supporting charitable organizations making an impact in the lives of people across New Jersey.”

For more information about the Foundation visit www.HorizonBlue.com/foundation.