Other Voices

Cancer Care Services: 70 years of help and hope for patients and caregivers

NASCAR star Jeff Gordon, an advocate for helping find a cure for pediatric cancer, helps Alaina Jones assemble a toy race car at a 2012 event assisted by Cancer Care Services.
NASCAR star Jeff Gordon, an advocate for helping find a cure for pediatric cancer, helps Alaina Jones assemble a toy race car at a 2012 event assisted by Cancer Care Services. Star-Telegram

In the summer of 1946, a group of physicians and community leaders had a vision to assist low-income, underserved cancer patients facing added challenges, including the loss of health insurance, lack of transportation to treatment or the inability to pay for cancer-related medications.

Those compassionate advocates created a one-of-a-kind organization for cancer patients and their families, the Fort Worth Cancer Society, with one staff member at the helm.

That vision of a few has become reality for thousands at today’s Cancer Care Services, with 23 full-time staff serving nearly 5,000 individuals each year in Tarrant, Parker and Hood counties.

We’ll be marking our 70th anniversary on Thursday with our Heroes of Hope luncheon at Ridglea Country Club.

The National Institutes of Health estimates more than 7,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer in Tarrant County each year. An additional estimated 600 people in Parker County and 350 in Hood County also face a cancer diagnosis each year.

The vision of Cancer Care Services is that everyone affected by cancer will reach out to us for help and hope.

In 2015, Cancer Care Services provided benefits to 4,600 clients through 11 licensed social workers, two registered oncology dietitians and a client activities manager.

We provided health insurance ($312,868), emotional and social support ($462,154), transportation ($96,048), medication ($292,390), medical equipment and supplies ($49,112) and nutrition ($163,055).

A new study suggests that the intense financial distress due to out-of-pocket costs related to cancer treatment is associated with increased risk of death by 79 percent, per the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

By providing crucial assistance like health insurance payments, medicine and nutrition, we are saving lives while easing the economic and psychological burdens cancer brings to patients and their families.

The National Cancer Institute reports that depressive symptoms in caregivers can be equal to or higher than that of those diagnosed with cancer.

Social, emotional and spiritual assistance for all age groups is offered by Cancer Care Services at no cost, regardless of income, through creative programs such as yoga, movie nights, support groups, wellness retreats, knitting circles, camps for kids and families, art and music therapy, Adopt-A-Family and more.

Finally, we empower those who have conquered cancer.

Survivorship is a life-long journey best not handled alone. Cancer Care Services celebrates milestones while helping clients cope with ongoing challenges like the fear of cancer returning.

Through the last 70 years, Cancer Care Services has assisted more than 100,000 cancer patients and families in our community.

We have offered help and hope for seven decades to people with all cancers, of all ages, from all economic backgrounds and in all stages of the cancer journey.

Melanie Wilson, a cancer survivor, is president and CEO of Cancer Care Services.

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