Opinion: Cancer patients have a force for good on their side

·4 min read

"No one can know how frightening a cancer diagnosis is,” wrote a Cape cancer survivor, “until it happens to them. The news hit me like a tidal wave.”

This column is personal. Breast cancer has taken every woman in my wife’s family for three generations. Lung cancer took her father and my mother. My wife, father and daughter had cancer – and beat it. It’s almost like knowing the Mafia has taken out a contract on your family. You jump at shadows.

But there’s a different narrative out here. One Cape cancer survivor explains: “My radiation oncologist and his staff recognized that I could very likely benefit from complementary approaches – and kindly referred me to the CWC (Cape Wellness Collaborative).”

Who does the collaborative collaborate with? With Cape Cod Healthcare, with over 90 local service providers and — if you need it — they’ll collaborate with you.

A few months back, I met with Silvina Johnson, development coordinator of the CWC. Over and over, as I meet the people who populate the public service community, I’m struck by their humanity and easy grace.

It so often seems the Lord’s work is being done by a relatively small team of souls. But they never seem to tire of helping people — and neither can we tire of helping them do it. As the holiday season rolls around, all too often we have family and friends who don’t really need much. A donation in their name to the charity of your choice — or theirs — makes a lot of sense.

The Wellness Collaborative has a tiny paid staff. For the rest, they rely on volunteers — yet another way you can get involved. So what do they do, exactly?

The story starts with loss, as such stories often do. In 2014, after losing her mother to ovarian cancer, local musician Sarah Swain founded the Cape Wellness Collaborative. Her goal was to provide, free of charge, the services of local wellness professionals to provide a galaxy of therapies for those facing cancer on Cape Cod and the Islands. They also serve people who have had positive genetic testing results for inherited cancer risk and are undergoing prophylactic surgery.

Each client receives a Wellness Card valued at $250. It can be used for payment with wellness professionals who offer art therapy, caregiver support, chiropractic and craniosacral therapy, energy work (including reiki, massage and reflexology, meditation), and nutrition counseling. Acupuncture has proved an effective treatment for fatigue, anxiety and especially nausea.

Their “Wellness Eats” program has delivered over 4,600 packaged, cooked or frozen health-supportive, delicious meals for their clients and their caregivers. Anyone coming out of surgery or chemotherapy knows how vital these can be.

What can the rest of us do to support all this? The CWC counts on the community to help us keep their doors open and these services afloat. Just $10 per month ensures that their clients get the Wellness Eats meals; $70 gives someone an integrative wellness therapy each month — massage or acupuncture; and $250 gives a new client a CWC Wellness Card.

The collaborative is always looking for volunteers to do different tasks around the office, deliver meals and help at events. You can donate on their website at capewellness.org/support-us, or mail a check to CWC at 11 Potter Ave., Hyannis, MA 02601, or visit their website, capewellness.org.

“I would not have had this healing experience,” one beneficiary wrote, “without your generous aid. Also my partner/caregiver and I both want to thank you for your meals program, which has given relief to her several months of ongoing meal preparation. I have not been able to do my share of our tasks and the ready-made meals have been an emotional boost as well as less work for her over the last few weeks.”

A while back, a client wrote in: “The last many months have been the biggest challenge of my life. The darkness of this very trying time has been brightened by what you have given. Please know that your hard work does not go unnoticed.”

And it shouldn’t go unnoticed by the rest of us. Over 1,400 of us on Cape get diagnosed with cancer every year. “You are not your diagnosis,” reassures Silvina, but for you and all who love you, cancer is a terrifying thing to live with. It’s reassuring to know these good people have your back.

Lawrence Brown is a columnist for the Cape Cod Times. Email him at columnresponse@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: cancer patients can get help from the cape wellness collaborative

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