The path from cancer diagnosis through treatment can be a challenging and sometimes lonely journey. As the number of people fighting cancer continues to rise, there is a significant need for support systems that help patients cope with the emotional and physical struggles associated with the disease. On July 25th Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) expanded its' Cancer Fighters® program with a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate an established space for patients to join together and support one another.
Created for and by patients more than two decades ago, the Cancer Fighters program is designed to allow patients both young and old, newly diagnosed, treating and those not currently treating, the opportunity to share life experiences. The program also provides individuals considering treatment at CTCA at Midwestern the opportunity to speak with those that have gone before them, as well as current patients seeking support and friendship during their journey.
Aaron Struss from Alma, Michigan was diagnosed with lymphocyte non-Hodgkin's cancer just days after his nineteenth birthday this past February. Aaron, who was referred to Cancer Treatment Centers of America by a family member, felt compelled to help others and soon joined the Cancer Fighters program.
"Since being diagnosed, I keep hearing the word 'story' in my head," said Struss. "I am a survivor. I want to share my story with other kids my age, so they know they're not alone. Family is important but it's hard to place your burden on them. You need to talk with people who can relate to what you're going through.
The creation of a new Cancer Fighters space expands the current program to offer a dedicated space in the Atrium Lobby where Cancer Fighters and patients can connect. The area has a relaxing atmosphere with refreshments, motivating stories and informational brochures, and is staffed by Cancer Fighters who volunteer their time to help others, providing empathy and support based on their own personal experience.
"The creation of this new, visible space for patients and family to connect, comfort and share with one another is right in line with all that CTCA does for their patients and their loved ones," said Rose Sajuan, Waukegan resident and long-time Cancer Fighter.
Scott Jones, president and CEO of CTCA at Midwestern, led the ribbon cutting ceremony along with Reverend Percy McCray, director of pastoral care at CTCA at Midwestern, and members of the Cancer Fighters program.
"The needs of our patients are always at the forefront of our minds and actions," said Jones. "To provide a patient-centric experience, we are committed to providing leading edge cancer care, as well as programs that support the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients and their families. Our network of survivors connect with patients and provide the comfort and reassurance they need to help them throughout their cancer journey."