Cancer House of Hope in West Springfield provides comfort, support for patients, families

The Cancer House of Hope in West Springfield, an agency of the Center for Human Development, offers free support services for cancer patients and their families. Shown here outside the House of Hope are, left to right, program director Joe Kane, Kimberley Lee, CHD’s vice president of development, and Sue Gustafson, a retired nurse who volunteers. (ALEXI COHAN PHOTO)
The Cancer House of Hope in West Springfield, an agency of the Center for Human Development, offers free support services for cancer patients and their families. Shown here outside the House of Hope are, left to right, program director Joe Kane, Kimberley Lee, CHD’s vice president of development, and Sue Gustafson, a retired nurse who volunteers. (ALEXI COHAN PHOTO)

By Alexi Cohan

WEST SPRINGFIELD – In 2016, according to the National Cancer Institute, over 1.5 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. At the Cancer House of Hope in West Springfield, program director Joe Kane is well aware of this fact.

Along with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Cancer House of Hope, an agency of the Center for Human Development, strives to provide cancer patients and their families from across Hampden County with a comfortable and warm environment to enjoy a variety of programs, support groups and care in any way they may need it.

Funded completely by generous donations and grants, free programs at the Cancer House of Hope, located at 1999 Westfield St., on Route 20, are offered every week.

The programs include reiki, yoga, support groups, grief counseling and massage therapy with an oncology-certified masseuse.

The House of Hope also offers free wigs and mastectomy bras.

With the majority of volunteers at the Cancer House of Hope being survivors themselves, men and women of all ages with all types cancer feel confident in asking questions or getting some advice.

“People going through cancer need support anywhere they can get it.”

One of these volunteers is Sue Gustafson, who has been volunteering since March. She worked as a nurse for 30 years and an oncology nurse for four.

“People going through cancer need support anywhere they can get it,” said Gustafson. “I enjoy being able to talk with them and provide a friendly face.”

The Cancer House of Hope is looking to grow and expand, especially in terms of pediatric cancer patients, who they don’t see very often at the house.

Kane and Kimberley A. Lee, vice president for development at CHD, say they are looking forward to reinstating a previously existing lecture series, beginning an art therapy program and offering movie nights for families.

“It’s like the type of position where you can lay your head down on your pillow at night and you can really say I did a good thing,” says Lee.

She also believes that the neutrality of the house is key to patients because it is not where they receive their care nor do they have to worry about paying for anything.

Kane, who has been working as program director for three months adds, “It’s that level of connectedness with people who have been through it, who have been there and who understand that you don’t need sympathy, you need hope.”

The Cancer House of Hope is always looking for volunteers. For more information, visit their Facebook page, Facebook.com/CHDCHH, or the CHD website, chd.org.

 

Published on MassLive, August 17, 2016. http://www.masslive.com/living/index.ssf/2016/08/at_the_cancer_house_of_hope_comfort_support_and_a_welcoming_environment_are_key.html

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