I usually devote this column to broad themes about cancer that are generalizable to people across the country.
Today, I’d like to keep it local and focus on the work of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.
Full disclosure: I’m the executive director of the Cancer Resource Center and have been involved with the organization since my own diagnosis with breast cancer in 1996. I know what we do and I’m so very proud of it.
When people in Tompkins County are affected by cancer, they connect with the Cancer Resource Center in a variety of ways. The comprehensive services that we offer are unique for a community of this size and generally exceed those offered in much larger cities. For example:
- We now offer eight support groups for individuals affected by cancer. We began with a women’s group, and gradually added groups for men, young adults, caregivers, and for individuals with colorectal, prostate, and more advanced cancers.
- Our Boutique provides free wigs, head coverings, and other items for people going through treatment.
- Through the generosity of Cornell University, we arrange for free bus transportation to New York City for second opinions and specialized treatment.
- Through a unique partnership with Cayuga Medical Center, our volunteers are at the hospital on a daily basis, connecting with and assisting cancer patients and their loved ones.
- We collaborate closely with cancer researchers at Cornell, connecting lab-based doctoral students with the local cancer community. Students learn about cancer from the human perspective and our clients learn about the science of cancer. This program is now in its third year and has become a model for other “town-gown” partnerships.
- Our website and monthly E-news have become the communications hubs for cancer information and programs in our area. Even people who never come through our doors can access resources and be part of our virtual community.
- Most importantly, we treat each person as an individual. We have no agenda other than fulfilling our motto that “no one should face cancer alone.”
People often assume that we receive funding from the American Cancer Society, but we do not. We’re a local organization and we depend on the support of our local community. Our most important annual fundraising event is the Walkathon and 5K Run that will take place in Cass Park on Saturday, October 24. It’s easy to register or to sponsor a participant by visiting our website at crcfl.net.
We live in a special community. I like to think that the Cancer Resource Center helps make it so.