The Small Office With A Big Heart
The Cancer Resource Center Helps Newly Diagnosed Find Their Way
It is a small office with a big responsibility. The people who come through the office doors may be confused, frightened, or alone. Many of them have just heard the one phrase none of us ever want to hear, “You have cancer.” Those newly diagnosed often do not know where to start in their journey to beat cancer, but there are resources out there to help. One of them is the Cancer Resource Center at Deaconess Hospital. The Cancer Resource Center is a place where cancer patients and their loved ones can receive information, assistance, and many other services. The volunteers (many of them cancer survivors) are caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable. But most of all they want to help.
Charlotte Holford, Office Coordinator, has been at the Cancer Resource Center (the first one in Washington State) since it first opened its doors seven years ago. “We have people of all ages, men and women, who come through our doors. Our goal is to make sure that when they leave, they have the information and resources they need,” said Holford, a seventeen-year cancer survivor.
When you walk through the office doors, you know the Cancer Resource Center is a place to find information. They have pamphlets on early detection for men and women, lists of local resources, and above all, a volunteer who is ready to help that person on their journey. When first walking in, one will notice bin after bin full of a variety of articles to comfort and educate the newly diagnosed. “This is our Reach to Recovery Bag,” Holford stated, pulling out a brightly colored cloth bag. The bag is handmade by volunteers and is given to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It contains information about breast cancer and about the Reach to Recovery program which pairs newly diagnosed women with breast cancer survivors. These survivors help guide women through every step of their journey while combating breast cancer. The Cancer Resource center office also assists women with prosthesis fitting.
Look Good…Feel Better is another program the Cancer Resource Center runs for women. The appearance-related side effects of cancer can be devastating, especially for women. This program teaches different beauty techniques to women during their treatment. Women can try different make-up techniques, and for those who have lost their hair, there are wigs made with real hair. The volunteers for this program are all licensed cosmetologists, and all of the products are donated by the cosmetic and personal care industry. “This program is amazing,” stated Holford. “A group of women come through the door as strangers, but leave knowing they have a support group,” she added.
Besides Reach to Recovery and Look Good…Feel Better, there are other programs. There is the Patient Lodging Program which is a hotel program that cancer patients can utilize for themselves and one caregiver while going through cancer treatments that are 50 miles or 90 minutes from their homes. There are gas vouchers available for those who have to make a longer trip to seek treatment, and there is also a Ride Program which can take patients to their treatments and back home again. There is also a great deal of information available to men regarding prostate and testicular cancer. “We want men to know that we are here as a resource for them as well,” Holford emphasized.
Currently there are 12 volunteers with the program, but Holford said they are always in need of more help. “To be a volunteer you need compassion and a desire to listen,” Holford explained. “Many people just want someone to talk to about what is going on in their lives,” she concluded. Another way to help is to continue to raise dollars for the American Cancer Society. A unique way to help is to donate hair to the office to be used for wigs. People who want to donate hair (length 10 to 12 inches) can bring it to the office, and it is then sent away to special manufacturers who make lovely wigs for cancer patients.
The Cancer Resource Center is located at 910 W. 5th Ave right next to Deaconess Medical Center. The phone number is 509-473-3170, and their hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday.
The Cancer Resource Center is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and by generous volunteers who dedicate their time and raise money to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. No matter who you are, the Cancer Resource Center is here to help you and your loved ones with education, service, and compassion.