Cancer Hope Network (CHN) staff recently traveled to Cancer Support Community of Greater Lehigh Valley (CSCGLV) to host a joint Member Connections training. The Member Connections program began in 2015 and trains cancer survivors to provide support to others facing cancer.
The day began as volunteers shared their stories, discussing challenges like recurring or metastasizing cancers, working and caring for children through treatment or facing life with lymphedema. They talked about treatments – including acupuncture, immunotherapy, bone marrow transplants, robotic surgeries and participating in clinical trials.
Then, came the pet discussions – including tales of foster cats, a giant German shepherd and a grumpy cat named George.
“Each Support Volunteer we train is unique – some are funny or quirky or have wildly interesting hobbies. Nearly all have faced a wide range of challenges in life – some cancer related, some not,” said Cynthia Gutierrez-Bernstein, CHN’s Director of Programs. “While many matches begin with a shared diagnosis or similar treatments, we also help cancer patients and caregivers connect based on personality or lifestyle circumstances.”
The survivor volunteers share practical advice and lessons they’ve learned since their own diagnoses. “My surgeon didn’t have time to answer all of my questions, so I asked if there was a resident or medical student I could talk to,” recalled Mary Ellen.
Linda, a breast cancer survivor who has been a Member Connections volunteer since 2015, encourages patients to visit hospitals and treatment centers they’re considering. “See how you feel when you walk in,” she advises. “You have to be comfortable where you are. You wouldn’t buy a house or an apartment without a visit.”
“Cancer Support Community is pleased to partner with CHN,” said Jen Sinclair Program Director for CSCGLV. “Our collaboration helps people move through their cancer experience with information, encouragement and confidence.”
“CSC is doing amazing work to help patients, survivors and caregivers in the Greater Lehigh Valley,” Gutierrez-Bernstein continued. “Together, we will ensure that no one faces cancer alone.”
We are pleased to welcome the following volunteers to the CHN/CSC-GLV family:
- Amanda – Breast (with recurrence to bone and organs), stage 4
- Barbara – Uterine/Bladder
- Cecelia – Uterine, stage 1B
- Dianne – Melanoma, stage 3C
- Hally – Breast, stage 2
- Katy – Acute Myeloid Leukemia (recur, FLT3+, t(6:9) mutations)
- Mary Ellen – Multiple cancers (basal, melanoma, breast cancer recurrence, thyroid), all stage 1
- Rebecca – Breast, stage 0/1
- Susanne – Breast, stage 4, Chloroma (leukemia)
ABOUT Cancer Support Community -Greater Lehigh Valley
The Cancer Support Community’s programs help people affected by cancer – survivors, caregivers, friends and family – regain control of their lives, reduce stress and isolation, and restore a sense of hope for a better quality of life regardless of the stage of the disease or the type of cancer.
About Cancer Hope Network
Cancer Hope Network provides free one-on-one emotional support to adult cancer patients and their caregivers. Each of our 400+ volunteers is at least one year post-treatment or successfully undergoing maintenance therapies. CHN Support Volunteers have faced more than 80 cancer types and speak 15 languages. They offer encouragement from diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship.