LANDOVER – A cancer diagnosis can be an emotionally difficult journey for both patients and their loved ones, but resources to help manage potential stress produced from the situation are not always readily available for both parties. However, a nonprofit called “Hope Connections for Cancer Support” (Hope Connections) fills in these gaps by providing a […]
LANDOVER – A cancer diagnosis can be an emotionally difficult journey for both patients and their loved ones, but resources to help manage potential stress produced from the situation are not always readily available for both parties.
However, a nonprofit called “Hope Connections for Cancer Support” (Hope Connections) fills in these gaps by providing a community of support for all people affected by cancer.
Through programs of emotional support, education, wellness and hope, people with cancer and their loved ones can experience a compassionate setting. Although the program is based in Montgomery County, a new Prince George’s County location will open in a 3,000-plus square foot space designed to feel like a home. Beginning the week of Oct. 3 at 8401 Corporate Dr., Suite 100 in Landover, support groups, educational workshops, mind/body and exercise classes and social activities for caregivers and cancer patients will be free of charge.
Janet Hadley, the program director for Hope Connections, said professionally-facilitated programs can be utilized by adults with cancer, or their caregivers, after attending an orientation. Even if people with the disease feel that going to medical appointments is adequate, caregivers may still take advantage of services offered by Hope Connections.
“A lot of people are happy just to be able to come some place where they can just relax and it’s not a doctor’s office. It’s like going to a best friend’s (house) – you know, some place where you can feel comfortable and relax and get the help and support that you need. That’s what we try to offer,” Hadley said. “We have people from just diagnosed all the way to technically being in their survivorship state.”
Hadley, who is also a county resident, said Hope Connection’s second facility will benefit local individuals who are affected by cancer.
“I personally live in Capitol Heights and I know that we don’t have anything like this in our region,” Hadley said. “There are no doctors in Capitol Heights. Let’s just be honest. So you’re either driving to Brandywine or Suitland, or you’re going to Greenbelt or you’re going into D.C. It just depends on what it is that you need, but you’re traveling to your doctors all of the time.
“And a lot of us, we don’t take care of ourselves when it is something that we don’t designate as important. A lot of times we don’t think our emotional support is as important, so if it’s not nearby we’re just not going to do it. And cancer costs so much money that the idea of adding an extra cost is something that a lot of families just cannot even begin to think about. That’s another reason why I love what we do, because everything we offer is free.”
President/Chief Executive Officer of Hope Connections Paula Rothenberg said she defines a caregiver as “anyone who loves or takes care of that person with cancer, such as a spouse, next door neighbor or adult child.” There is no ending point of service for clients and unpaid caregivers. She also described the nonprofit as being comprised of a community of people who support each other. Any cancer patient is welcome to seek support through it, regardless of where he or she received medical treatment.
“There’s actually only one organization in the region that does the work we do. It’s called ‘Life with Cancer’ and they’re a program of the Inova Health System, so they’re in Northern Virginia. That’s part of the reason we didn’t even look at Virginia when we were looking to find a space,” Rothenberg said. “It has always been our mission to expand in the region. We think of ourselves as a regional organization. The reason it’s taken us so long to get there is we opened in 2007, and as you recall, the economy tanked. So we had to stabilize and make sure we were ready to grow.”
Rothenberg added that a decision to open a second Hope Connections location in the county arose because it was one place that was identified as an underserved community when it comes to cancer support services. The Prince George’s County Health Department is reportedly supportive and excited about the nonprofit coming to the area, since aforementioned services are needed for residents. However, Rothenberg said initial money to open in the county is coming from Hope Connections and the organization’s current supporters. A crowdfunding campaign is also underway to raise additional money for the Prince George’s County facility.
Although Rothenberg is excited about the new journey, more financial support is needed to support “a calculated risk.”
“We are hopeful that once we get into Prince George’s County, we’re going to get the support of both the business community and the individuals who live in the county, as well as hopefully the support of the faith-based community, because we find that there are things people do when they’re diagnosed,” Rothenberg said. “First they tell their family and friends. Second, they go to their employer to find out what are their benefits. Then they go to their faith-based leader, and that’s a very, very important connection for us.
“So we are starting outreach efforts to make sure all of the churches in the county are aware of what we do. If they have constituents who need our help, there is a free resource that they can send their constituents to.”
To obtain information about October open houses that will be held every Thursday of the month at Hope Connections, register for an orientation, or inquire about opportunities to volunteer, email email@example.com, call 301-634-7500 or visit https://www.facebook.com/hopeconnectionsforcancer to learn more about the nonprofit organization.