BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH RECOGNIZES SERVICE PROVIDERS
SAN JOSE – A cancer diagnosis can be devastating. And the hardship of illness can be further compounded for patients of modest means. Coping with the daily struggle to get to appointments, get some exercise, and maintain good nutrition can be tough.
That’s why the work of organizations such as Pink Ribbon Group (PRG) and Cancer CAREPoint, along with other Bay Area organizations that provide critical supportive services to patients undergoing cancer treatment, are so important, according to Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to recognize organizations in our community working every day to support people being treated for breast cancer — and all types of cancers,” said Simitian. “We’re fortunate we can make support services available to community members to help make a difficult time in their life a little easier.”
Last year, Simitian urged the Board of Supervisors to award a total of $500,000 in funding to support PRG and Cancer CAREPoint in their work with patients receiving cancer treatment at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC). Both groups have since provided a slew of critical services to patients during the height of the COVID pandemic and, in the case of PRG, begun to expand services to patients at other hospitals throughout Santa Clara County. Even as the Supervisors recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month at their October 19 Board meeting, Simitian took pains to emphasize, “Awareness alone isn’t enough. We’ve got to step up and help in real and tangible ways.”
“Few of us are fortunate enough to make our way through life without being touched by cancer in some way,” said Simitian. “It changes your life in a way that requires you to put all of your energy into getting better. Life’s daily realities, like getting the groceries and vacuuming, often take a back seat and that leads to more stress at exactly the time it’s least manageable. Supportive services like those provided by Pink Ribbon Group and Cancer CAREPoint can really play an important role in re-establishing health.”
PRG, which focuses particularly on patients with breast and gynecological cancers, has provided more than 12,325 meals and given more than 335 rides to more than 170 people since January 1, 2021. More than 50% of patients using services fall below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines.
“We are so very pleased to be in partnership with Santa Clara Valley Medical Center to provide critical support to their patients being treated for breast and gynecological cancers,” said Julie Arnheim, director of growth and strategy at Pink Ribbon Group. “We are both committed to the overall well-being of the entire family and helping to predict better outcomes for the patients we serve. It delights us to hear frequent praise from SCVMC’s oncology social workers and from the clients and their families for whom PRG provides safe travel to treatment, healthy meals, and virtual peer support. We look forward to continuing to work together in providing care that goes well beyond hospital walls for those battling breast and gynecological cancer. We are working to ensure that no one travels this road alone.”
“PRG is a true blessing!” added Kerstin, a Santa Clara County resident, cancer survivor, and Pink Ribbon Group client. “I don’t have a car and the cancer treatment center is not on a bus line near where I live. I’m on a tight budget and couldn’t possibly have paid for a taxi or Uber. I honestly don’t know if I could get to treatments and appointments without PRG. In addition to transportation, PRG has Sunbasket deliver delicious, healthy, microwaveable meals to me each week. Trips to the grocery store are impossible for me to manage. I’m just too weak to carry the grocery bags and walk/bus home. I don’t have a stove, and wouldn’t be up to cooking if I did. I would be living off unhealthy stuff from the 7/11 down the block. Thanks to PRG I enjoy 4 healthy dinners a week!”
Since the beginning of 2021, Cancer CAREPoint has provided transportation and food assistance, counseling support or wig appointments to 140 patients receiving care at SCVMC. This fall they hosted two wig banks at the hospital and helped 14 individuals find a wig to help them feel confident as they endure the effects of treatment.
“We are proud to continue partnering with the County and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center to offer support services to patients and their caregivers alongside medical care,” said Dawn Hogh, executive director of Cancer CAREpoint. “Thanks to the support of Supervisor Simitian and the Board of Supervisors, Cancer CAREpoint can reach currently underserved communities, and provide services such as wigs, counseling, nutrition, and exercise in English and Spanish. “
One survivor who Cancer CAREpoint serves shared this about the program: “Thank you so much for your service. I’m very pleased. Your team’s patience from the first contact was impressive – just trying to get connected. The phone tag and emails to try and communicate are very appreciated. This all made a big difference in my experience during this very challenging time of COVID and cancer. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can’t say it enough.”