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ACF5722

Supporting families affected by cancer

  • Submitted by:

    Hearth Place Cancer Support Centre

    Location:

    86 Colborne Street West, Oshawa, L1G1L7

  • Idea Created:

    September 29, 2010

    Community Size:

    100,000

Overview:

Hearth Place Cancer Support Centre (Hearth Place) is a non-profit, charitable organization which has been caring for families dealing with cancer in Durham Region since January 29, 1997. We offer a variety of emotional support programs, wellness classes, educational workshops and child and teen support.

Hearth Place provides a warm and welcoming home where patients and their families can share their experiences, find resources and discover new ways to care for themselves and each other.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 24% of adults with cancer are parenting children younger than 18 years.

Cancer never just touches the life of the person who is diagnosed but affects every member of the family, and the extended network of friends and colleagues. Children and teens have very special needs when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer or when a loved one dies. Their ability to understand and cope may be very limited depending on their age and maturity. Hearth Place would like to expand our family support services using child life specialists, family therapists, music and art therapists and social workers to provide increased therapeutic support for all members of the family and begin providing in home practical support, as well as special retreat days and in-home support for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Traditionally, all childhood cancers are treated in Toronto. In discussions with families who have a child with cancer, however, they spend so much time travelling into the city for treatments that they have been very clear that they want their support closer to home. Additionally, Centenary Hospital, which is within our East Central LHIN, has begun doing pediatric oncology so we believe the time is perfect to develop psycho-social and practical support for these families. It is overwhelming to deal with the illness and possible death of a child. It is exhausting, frightening, isolating and can be a very difficult financial burden on families as well as challenging for siblings who often feel the loss of their parent's time and energy and who may not have the maturity to understand or articulate what is happening.

In anticipation of winning this grant, we have begun assembling a team of experts and volunteers who are interested in assisting with our family support initiatives. We have already enlisted the collaboration of Camp Quality, who can assist with training and mentoring and the University UOIT community services committee.

Our initiative includes: 1. Individual and group counselling for children aged 4-18. 2. In home art therapy, play therapy and music therapy for children diagnosed with cancer and their siblings. 3. Family Retreat and fun days of activities for children with cancer and their siblings. 4. In home practical support for families with children in treatment including babysitting, cleaning services and school preparation and tutoring for when they are well enough to return to school. 5. Family Support Program Co-ordinator to liase with families, assign appropriate family support programs and services and develop a comprehensive volunteer recruitment and training program.

Our services are provided free of charge and help patients and families look beyond the diagnosis, cope with treatment and start living life to its fullest once again. It is important that members not be defined by their disease but rather find hope and peace and the renewed strength to live well with their disease.

Hearth Place operates without public funding using a variety of fundraising events such as fashion shows, ski day, golf tournaments, artists in the garden tours, school spirit weeks and dances to raise the money required to fund our operations. We have a small but dedicated staff and a team of over 350 volunteers. While we have introduced new programming every quarter since inception, we do so by responding to the needs of the members walking in our door and in a way that we know we can sustain. This past fall we held our first pledged 5k which was very successful for the first year and has the potential to grow in the future. With over 80 existing programs and a forcast of 66% increase in new cancer diagnoses this decade in Durham region the need for new funding sources is greater than ever. Grantors such as Aviva make it possible to develop and deliver new programming. In 2005, we received a three year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. They were very pleased with our performance over the 3 years and have invited us to reapply. This Aviva grant would allow us to begin developing and piloting this project and we believe through increased fundraising activities and the potential for other granting corporations in the future we will be able to sustain and grow the project.

Thank you for helping us provide the Hope, Encouragement, Acceptance, Reassurance, Trust and Help for which Hearth Place stands.