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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Cansurvive Gyn Cancer Support Group

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Patient & Family Support

Mission: To provide emotional, educational, and spiritual support for women with gynecologic cancer and for those who love and care for them. and to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and prevention of these cancers

Results: We continued having 2 meetings per month this year, which provided educational and personal support. E-mail and website communications (and phone calls) help others who cannot attend meetings feel connected to the support group. We put together 230 bags for patients receiving treatment. These are distributed in late November through early January. Some of the items in the bags were lip balm, hand sanitizer, toiletries, toothbrush and toothpaste, magazines, pens, tissue, candy, and a handwritten note of encouragement. We joined with a local ovarian cancer foundation for a stand-up comedy fundraiser. Many patients were able to attend at no cost. We sent flowers, cards, and balloons to uplift patients. We called many newly diagnosed patients. For awareness: We lit the Alabama State Capitol in teal (the GYN cancer ribbon color) on September 4th. The lighting ceremony featured patient, physician, advocacy, pastoral, and family speakers; Alabama’s First Lady Dianne Bentley proclaiming the day as GYN Cancer Awareness Day in Alabama; and, a band whose family members had been affected by these cancers. We filled a 56 passenger bus with people from greater Birmingham and Huntsville for the trip. Other people from around the state joined us at the ceremony. We designed a tee shirt for this event and partially underwrote the cost of the trip. We manned an awareness table at several local events and at the four days of the Southern Women’s Show. It was not unusual for us to talk to women who needed to follow up with their gynecologist. Our Moore LIfe to LIve Golf Tournament in April 2013 distributed grants to 4 patients.

Target demographics: Women of all ages

Geographic areas served: Primarily the greater Birmingham area, although we communicate with many patients from all over Alabama and adjoining states who are treated in Birmingham

Programs: The CanSurvive GYN Cancer Support Group: - provides 2 support group meetings per month. We share, have speakers on relevant topics, or do a fun activity which allows us to interact with one another during the activity. It is so important for patients to be around others who have walked in their shoes. - sends cards, flowers, and/or balloons to patients who are having a tough time; - talks one to one with people about GYN cancers at awareness events in September and throughout the year such as the Southern Women's Show; - provides some gas and gift cards for patients that are distributed by a social worker, clinical care coordinator, or directly by us; - helps with some personal needs (e.g., gowns, incontinence supplies, toiletries for an unexpected hospitalization, etc.); - provides e-mail/website communications about our activities, speaker notes from meetings, local ovarian cancer foundation events, and research news; - screens and order educational and emotional support literature for patients; - and, can provide assistance to send members to meetings such as the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance annual meeting.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

My best friend has breast cancer. Her kidneys is not working properly. She is on a donor list. My best friend also a disease with thyroid. Her doctor remove her thyroid almost2 years ago. She has to take infusion for 90-120 days. The sad thing is she has one child a little girl. The doctor said she wouldn't never have kids. But she has a one year old daughter. Michelle has to be a the hospital 7 days a week for 90-120 days to go thru the infusion. She is a single parent. Raising Bre along with the help of God and me. When she was taking treatment September to November. It was really hard. Michelle wasn't feeling good. She doesn't have enough money to pay for daycare. I'm praying someone can help my friend

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a practitioner caring for women with gynecologic malignancies, I simply cannot place a value on the role that the CanSurvive group plays for many of my patients and their families. Not only do group members function as a tremendous support network for people affected by gyn cancer, they serve as advocates, fundraisers, and above all as friends. It is a tremendous organization and I am very proud to be affiliated with such a wonderful group of people.

Patti19

Client Served

Rating: 5

The CanSurvive group has been my lifeline for support, information, and a sense of connection to fellow survivors. I am an 8 year ovarian cancer survivor and I live a six hour drive from my doctor and the CanSurvive meetings. However, they have done a remarkable job of keeping me connected via email. Because of CanSurvive encouragement, I attended the national conference in Washington D.C where I met survivors from all over the country. This was empowering for me and I realized the importance of keeping our law makers informed of the needs for funding for cancer research.
Because I live in a remote area, I felt quite alone after my diagnosis. There was no one close to me who had experienced gyn cancer and treatment. I started my own local support group with women who were breast cancer survivors. I also provided symptom cards to the shops in my area. For the past 8 years, I have been able to connect through CanSurvive with others in my geographical area who have ovarian cancer and I have stayed in touch to offer support. Being part of this unique group of women has been a true blessing to me and I am grateful for the leadership.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a survivor of a rare gyn cancer, choriocarcinoma (or GTN). I found out about this group at my doctor's office where I took my chemo treatments. It has been great to gather with other ladies who have been down this same path. We have all been dealt the blow of receiving the diagnosis of cancer, we have all endured cancer treatment from surgery or radiation or chemo. There is something to be said about being with people who truly understand these difficulties, yet are able to offer encouraging words and endeavor to lift your spirits! I have enjoyed making friends in this group. Cheryl is great about keeping everyone informed. There are many activities and opportunities to interact, volunteer and get involved in awareness campaigns and fundraisers.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a twelve year survivor of ovarian cancer I have found CanSurvive to be a wonderful support group where ladies with gyn cancers and their care givers can meet once a month to share their experiences, ask questions of others and gain support from peers. We also gain knowledge from our speakers who present a variety of issues all of which are pertinent to our circumstances. Most of all I enjoy the fellowship and sharing of all those who attend.
CanSurvive is very active in “getting the word out” and trying to educate others to be aware of those very vague symptoms of ovarian cancer. I certainly didn’t know any signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer so I am quite happy to volunteer with our group to let others know what the warnings are. We also have literature available for all the gyn cancers.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The day I attended my first meeting with CanSurvive was a great day for me! I had never taken part in a support group before and didn't know quite what to expect. I was worried that the meetings might make me feel depressed at a time when I was trying so hard to be positive and happy. Instead, I found the meetings to be extremely uplifting, very informative, and just what I needed. I wish I had attended them sooner---while I was going through chemotherapy---as I have received so much support from the wonderful members I have come to know and love. Many like me attend alone but are certainly not lonely---there are new friends and dear friends to see each time I attend. The officers and members are always friendly and reach out to others to make each person feel a part of the group. The meetings are interesting and just what I need to learn something new and ways to help others. My thanks and praises go to the officers who work so hard to meet the needs of its members. CanSurvive is a joyful group!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a 9 year ovarian cancer survivor. My sister-in-law, she was my caregiver, and I were able to attend the May 17, 2013 meeting. We were really impressed with the way the meeting was conducted. We really enjoyed meeting other survivors and all that attended the meeting that day. Dr. Estes had a round table discussion on all the new things that are being worked on, as far as research and new ways to treat the GYN cancers. I really enjoyed meeting Cheryl Bourne, the head of the group, and Dr. Estes. I am looking forward to attending another meeting. I am trying to start a new support and information group on these cancers in my area. CanSurvive has been a great help to me in how to get things going. Thank you so much to all who are involved with CanSurvive.

Client Served

Rating: 5

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each others' life". To me,these words of Richard Bach embody the spirit of CanSurvive. I truly do not know where I would be now without the support and generosity of this fine group of people that I am proud to call family. I am thankful for them daily and am blessed to have them in my life. I feel that, even though I have the absolute best in medical care, these fine friends heal in other ways. In good times and in tough times, they make you feel as though you can share anything. God Bless CanSurvive.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a great group of people who come together to share & give knowledge, support, fellowship, and where new friendships are born too. Even though I have missed more meetings than I have attended, I enjoy reading each e-mail the group sends because they help me stay up to date about what is happening locally and afar, and about all topics close to my heart. The topics close to me heart would be those concerning gyn related cancers. This is because in Feb. 2010, I was diagnosed with stage 3-C Ovarian Cancer. I was 46 at the time. I had a reoccurance in July 2012, and am currently in a 2nd remission since that first diagnosis in 2010. This group helps women and caregivers by sharing medical knowlegde, chemo related issues, food and exercise, and the list goes on! Humor has helped me get through some tearful moments, and with that being the case, I'll add that this is "one cancer club" you would want to be a part of, because of all the good things it does for anyone touched by gyn cancers!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We all have a story of how our lives unfold. Chapters and milestones to achieve and to embrace but we are never ever prepared for the news that you have the "C" word. It changes everything and you lose control of your own life and your path takes a turn that you can never be truly prepared for. My journey started with my yearly womanly checkup. I had not been having any issues and I was about to turn 50 in a few months. I had no symptoms that were impacting my daily life; so, just imagine the shock and disbelief when your doctor advises you that you have Stage III c Ovarian Cancer! Your first inclination is to run to the computer and goggle ovarian cancer! That can be the most devastating piece of this process and prognosis. The survival rates are not encouraging to say the least. It felt like I was handed a death sentence for a crime I did not commit. Why was I being punished in this way? What had I done to cause this disease to invade my body and spirit? The medical professionals did their best to ease my anxiety and take the best possible care of me from a medical perspective, but, it is the human spirit that will falter faster than the body if you have nowhere to turn. I found my salvation the day I attended my first CanSurvive meeting. I was welcomed with such openness and grace. My spirits were immediately lifted; to be able to talk to women, who were living with ovarian cancer, hear about their personal trials and tribulations; Issues they had encountered and how they were able to overcome and survive. I left that meeting with a renewed sense of it will be OK. I have new friends to support me and help me learn to live with my illness. I am happy to say that I am on the road to recovery and have been living my life with a new sense of gratitude and wanting to give back to my community of woman fighting the same battle. CanSurvive was a blessing when I needed it the most and that to me is PRICELESS.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My mother recently passed away after a five year long battle with ovarian cancer. My mom lived in Montgomery and wasn't able to attend group meetings but the members of CanSurvive made her feel included by sending her encouraging messages and providing her with a "Lydia Project" bag while she was undergoing treatment. When my mom was admitted to the hospital and eventually to the palliative care unit in January 2013, CanSurvive sent her balloons, cards, and some group members even took time to visit with her. I appreciate all the amazing gifts CanSurvive gave my mother in such a difficult time but I am even more touched by their generosity of taking the time to comfort me and the rest of our family.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was diagnosed with advanced stage Ovarian cancer in August of 2011. I went through surgery & chemo not really feeling a need for an outside support group. I was very focused on my battle and was fortunate to have a tremendous amount of support from family, friends and my medical team. I was a warrior with goals and milestones to meet....then in February 2012 I achieved that final goal, the last of 6 cycles of aggressive chemo..... cause for celebration, all tests looked good, it appeared everything worked as hoped... now life could get back to normal, as if the previous 6 months had never happened.!

Only the funny thing was, that "normal" never came back.... I found that I was becoming anxious before every Dr visit, everytime I had an unusual ache or pain I would immediately worry that the cancer was coming back, I was wondering why I did so well, when so many others weren't as lucky... I wanted the old "me" back, not this fearful, baldheaded stranger looking back from the mirror.

Then I found the Cansurvive support group and discovered that all of my feelings were normal (imagine that, it's just a new normal). I just showed up at the April 2012 Sunday meeting, didn't know anyone but I immediately felt at home. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, and I never felt like an outsider.... (I even won the door prize... but I still think that was rigged!) The thing is, we may not know each other when we walk in the door, but we are all in the same sisterhood and are there to offer support to each other, answer questions (almost anything that you ask, someone has a personal experience to share), laugh together, offer hope to each other and yes, sometimes cry together as well.

I live approximately 60miles outside Birmingham, so the Friday meeting is not really an option for me. I am so thankful that Cansurvive has the Sunday meetings and I try my best not to miss one. I would tell anyone who is either dealing with GYN cancer, or has a loved one affected to come to one of our meetings... I promise you won't regret it!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Thank you for the opportunity to share what CanSurvive has meant to me and my family.

My daughter, Dana Layne was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011. It was very difficult to get adjusted to the word "cancer". Even when we realized that cancer was our new reality, it was still very difficult to accept. As Dana experienced surgery, radiation and chemo therapy, we were at a loss as to what questions to ask, or even where to get answers to the questions we did have. We needed the truth, but we needed compassion and understanding also.

When Dana heard of the CanSurvive support group she was eager to attend, in the hope that it would be of help to us.

We were not disappointed. The ladies at CanSurvive were the answer to our many prayers. It turned out that they were exactly what Dana and I needed. From the beginning the group took Dana into their arms and never let go. Dana felt free to call any of them day or night, even on holidays. They used e-mail, text messages, and even regular mail to share information, in order to help Dana understand what her body was going through. They did it all with love, compassion, and understanding.

The caregiver support group provided by CanSurvive enabled me to understand how to help myself, along with Dana as she fought her battle with cancer. Dana lost her battle in October 2012, and the loss I felt--and still feel - is indescribable, CanSurvive is still there for me. They have been with me with open arms to help me deal with my loss. They have enabled me to stand when I could not. They have held me close when I needed support. Words cannot express the gratitude in my heart for CanSurvive. The best way to describe them is in one word.... "blessing".

Joan Goode

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2011 and attended my first Support Group meeting one month later. I found a welcoming group of smiling faces, happy to get to know me and hear my story, quick to offer a listening ear and a kind word or hug. Its a safe haven where I don't have to explain the medical language, the side effects, the range of emotions; I can just 'be'. We discuss a wide range of topics and I seem to learn something each meeting and walk away feeling stronger. I am encouraged by the women and each of their respective journeys and leave with a rejuvenated sense of motivation to fight this battle.

Sonyawells1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi, my name is Sonya Wells. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July 2008. For the next few months I would learn new words, oncology, chemotherapy, and the scariest thing to me would be ports and infusion therapy. When all was finished, I felt sure I would run from the building and never say CANCER again. I begin to receive e-mails form a group called CANSURVIVE. I went to a meeting, and there were people giving of their time and support in more ways than I could ever imagine. I felt as though I left with hope, courage, a since of humor and realized I was able to say I had cancer, and I was now called a SURVIVOR.
CANSURVIVE group is a great and wonderful way to stay aware of the new drugs, help others who have just been diagnosed. Also ask questions get answers, and I feel I have a new extended family who understands me and there is no judgment to the Chemo Brain we all share.
Cancer will always be a part of my life but I am no longer afraid to say cancer, and when you put a group of women together one thing is for sure you will find power beyond measure.




Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

There was a large void in support services for patients with gyn cancers in our community. CanSurvive provided a resource for people to talk to others dealing with the burden of cancer and cancer treatments and the indelible mark it puts on a person's psyche. They meet regularly and provide updates on medical issues, provide programs on survivorship, and plan activities to assist patients currently ongoing treatments. One of their latest activities was to provide laptop computers for patients undergoing chemotherapy so that they may access Caring Bridge on the internet during treatment. It's really hard to put down in so few words what all this organization means to our patients and to my practice.

Client Served

Rating: 5

There aren't many redeeming qualities about having cancer. No one can take away the frightening words of the diagnosis, the pain of surgery, the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, the fear, the waiting, the worry. But there is a way to reduce the feelings of aloneness. I was first diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer in 2004 and joined CanSurvive in 2006. I walked into a world of caring friends, women who shared my experiences, sorrows, joys, and hope. We laughed and cried together.

One consequence of my illness and treatment is that my contact with others changed. For weeks at a time, I could no longer do the things that made up my 'normal' life. Just as people in CanSurvive cared for me, I found that reaching out to other women in our group brought back a feeling of being valued, of supporting people during their hardest times.

CanSurvive provides many things: patient support (in lots of ways), information to patients, public awareness, a shoulder to lean on, a joyful heart to share the happy times with, a circle of women who become strong because they can hold on to each other. My life has been positively affected through my involvement with CanSurvive.

Board Member

Rating: 5

We first found the CanSurvive group when my mother, MaryAnne King, was diagnosed with Fallopian Tube cancer in 2006. The support that was provided to my mother and our family was invaluable. It truly made a difference for my mom to be able to talk to other women who knew exactly what she was going through and could offer her advice. They shared their ideas for nutrition, exercise, pain management, and much more. It also helped her through her journey to be able to help others and share her own experience. That is what this group is all about, helping each other. After my mother passed away in 2009, I chose to continute to be involved with the CanSurvive group simply because I was shown through being with these women and their families, the possibilites of making a difference for someone who is going through cancer treatments or dealing with the recovery after the treatment and for support being offered to those who care for them. This group provides something for patients that is desperately needed and that is caring, understanding and support.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the CanSurvive GYN Cancer Support Group since its inception. There has never been a more caring group of ladies who help support one another through their journeys and then reach out to educate women on the signs and symptoms of gyn cancers. They are dedicated. they meet once a month at the American Cancer Center where they share their treatment and the side effects. They also have professional educators as guest speakers at these meetings to keep them informed on the latest treatments and studies that are going on. This is an amazing non-profit group. They support patients and their families from the first diagnosis until the end. Many of the families are in need of support and encouragement as much as their loved one with cancer.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I wear many hats with the CanSurvive GYN Cancer support group. I wear hat number one as an ovarian cancer survivor. I value the actual support from my "sisters", from the medical staff who become involved, from others who are touched by GYN cancer and are so generous and caring to be a part of the group. Another hat I wear is as a part of a speakers' bureau. We are trained to speak to medical students and other groups to promote awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. I wear a similar hat when I volunteer at events such as the Southern Women's Show to distribute information about GYN cancers and to talk to people about signs and symptoms. Others in this group wear the important hats of reaching out to patients, of sharing personal experiences about coping with treatments, and of directly "being there".