The event will be held today, July 9, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Bayhealth Medical Center, 209 E. Main St. (Route 299), and it's open to anyone who's been touched by cancer including patients, survivors, family members, friends, and caregivers.
IF YOU GO
WHAT Cancer Support Community open house
WHEN 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, July 9
WHERE Bayhealth Medical Center, 209 E. Main St. (Route 299), Middletown, just west of the post office
WHO Open to anyone interested in finding out more about the services offered by the Cancer Support Community for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers
MORE INFO (302) 734-0898 or cancersupportdelaware.org.
Longtime Middletown resident Jan Shallcross is leading the effort to offer more support services for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers in the MOT area.
Shallcross is the Kent County director for the Cancer Support Community and is organizing efforts to expand the group’s programs in southern New Castle County, starting with an open house Wednesday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to noon at Bayhealth Medical Center in Middletown.
The event will include lots of information, light refreshments, giveaways, and the opportunity to talk with Cancer Support Community representatives and support group leaders.
How can a support group help me?
“I have family and friends who’ve had cancer,” said Shallcross. “Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. I have seen these programs benefit people because they are able to talk with others who know what they’re going through, and they learn to be their own advocate for their care.”
Shallcross said cancer patients’ first response when invited to a support group is often, “I have family who will be helping me.”
“But unless you’ve heard those three words, ‘You have cancer,’ it’s difficult to know what you’re going through,” she said. “Cancer is not a death sentence. Studies have shown that if you learn how to be your own advocate for your treatment and have a positive outlook, you’ll do so much better. The emotional aspect is critical. To be able to talk about what you’re going through with other people who are going through the same thing, and those who have beaten cancer, helps so much.”
The support continues even for those who are cancer free.
“We also help people when their treatments are over,” said Shallcross. “Sometimes people with cancer are so focused on forging ahead, on beating it, when they are cancer free they’re not sure what to do next because that’s been the main focus of their lives for so long. Again, it helps to talk to others who have gone through the same thing.”
Local program in need of more meeting space
“Right now, most people have to go to the Christiana or Dover for these types of support groups,” said Shallcross. “The Cancer Support Community has mainly offered programs in Wilmington, Dover, and Rehoboth. Now we’re going to be starting a cancer support group here in Middletown.”
That’s thanks to a grant the organization recently received from the ChiChester du Pont Foundation, and the generosity of Bayhealth which has offered the use of the conference room at the Middletown center.
“At first, the focus will be on the support group, but as I work in the community and meet more people, I hope to find yoga instructors and tai chi instructors to offer a wider variety of programs,” said Shallcross. “We already have a nutritionist on board, and we plan to offer a nutrition program in August.”
Many residents may know Shallcross because her husband’s family owned Shallcross Chevrolet, and she worked as the secretary at the Middletown Transcript for several years.
She’s hoping to use her connections in the MOT area to find other organizations who would be willing to offer space on a weekly or monthly basis as the support programs expand.
“We would love to work with churches or other community groups who could help us offer evening classes,” she said.
Groups that have a meeting room are asked to call Shallcross at (302) 734-0898.
What is the Cancer Support Community?
“Not many people around here know what we do,” said Shallcross, about the organization which recently changed its name from the Wellness Community.
The Cancer Support Community Delaware is a statewide group and part of a national nonprofit organization that provides programs of emotional support and education to those families that have been touched by cancer.
Along with support groups, the organization offers educational programs, nutrition programs, stress reduction classes, yoga, tai chi, meditation and more.
Led by licensed professionals, programs offered by the Cancer Support Community are all free of charge.
The purpose is to help those who have been touched by cancer harness the strength and knowledge needed to overcome the challenges they face, Shallcross said. People affected by cancer can learn vital skills that enable them to regain control, reduce isolation, and restore hope, regardless of the stage of disease.
Depressing or rewarding?
Shallcross has worked for the Cancer Support Community for 20 years.
“People have said, ‘How can you see people with cancer every day? Isn’t it depressing?’ I tell them, ‘No, it’s uplifting. It’s rewarding,” she said. “With all the advances that have been made, I see a lot of people survive this. To be able to offer people support programs that help them, and help them beat cancer – that makes me feel good about what I do.”