Last month, artist and author Marion Behr gathered a group of cancer support organizations, cancer thrivers, and members of the community to discuss the many resources available to cancer patients. (Photos here.) She was moved by the profound togetherness that she experienced that evening – and deeply appreciative of the tips shared by both panel members and audience. She shares her reflections and thanks here.
HOPE: SEARCHING FOR AND LEARNING ABOUT IT - TOGETHER
After receiving help from Cancer Hope Network, Anne Johnston became a passionate volunteer for the organization. It was Anne who first introduced me to both the organization and its director Wanda Diak. Wanda was amazing! She remained tireless in answering questions when I was just at the first stage of compiling information for Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices. Wanda also took time out to introduce me to the organization’s volunteers. In addition to their voices, these volunteers lend listening ears to patients through the medium of the telephone. The volunteers help patients find the hope that can only be conveyed with compassion by someone who has been through a similar journey. Cancer Hope Network ultimately provided three articles to Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices. One article describes the Cancer Hope Network: Two other articles were written by volunteers who clearly made a big difference in cancer patients’ lives while volunteering for this organization.
On April 16th we reunited once again along with other organizations who shared the goal of giving support to individuals going through the cancer journey. This time we gathered for an event at Raymour & Flanigan resulting from an invitation to do selected readings from our book. Instead of doing readings, I suggested having a panel presentation involving authors and organizations represented in Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices. Frank Barbosa, as a Support Volunteer from Cancer Hope Network, gave a wonderful personal presentation describing how he found HOPE through Cancer Hope Network and then how he passed his experience forward by helping many others. Other speakers included Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Medical Director of the Steeplechase Cancer Center at RWJ Somerset, Ellen Levine, LCSW, OSW-C, Program Director, Cancer Support Community of (CNJ) and Dorothy Reed, Co-Founder and President of Sisters Network (of CNJ). Together we targeted resources for patients and families touched by cancer. We all agreed, hope can make a real difference in a patient’s ability to fight cancer.
Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices took five years to compile. In the last two years, since its publication, this book was granted three medals. Two gold medals were awarded for the “Best in Health.” We could not have achieved this alone: “Thank You” Cancer Hope Network and Frank Barbosa for providing reasons for hope and a humane example of how to help, and for contributing your time and effort. I’m so grateful for the chance we had to work together.