Tonawanda News

Lifestyle

October 17, 2010

NT-based service offers support, counseling to cancer patients

NORTH TONAWANDA — There used to be a time when the word “cancer” wasn’t even in most people’s vocabularies.

Rather than utter the disease’s name, according to Hillary Ruchlin, people would use the term “the big C” to denote what illness they were talking about.

Times have changed for the better, said Ruchlin, executive director of the Cancer Wellness Center in North Tonawanda. People now know that “the big C” is far from a death sentence, that the disease can be beaten.

People know that there is hope.

As head of the CWC, Ruchlin leads a two-person crew (she’s joined by program director Patricia A. Baia) in coordinating three primary programs that are aimed to benefit cancer patients.

The first program is the cancer coach program, which pairs newly diagnosed cancer patients with volunteers who share the same disease. After a patient calls seeking a coach, Ruchlin and Baia find a person with the same form of cancer to offer support through phone calls, live visits or any other means the patient needs.

“They’re amazing,” Ruchlin said of the more than 135 cancer survivors who volunteer their services. “They are eager to help ... and they do a fabulous job.”

The one thing that patients won’t receive from a coach, Baia said, is medical advice. That’s left to doctors.

“It’s just great emotional support,” Baia said. “Some of these people have nobody, and these coaches can be there.”

The CWC’s second program is a mentoring class offered to second-year medical school students at the University at Buffalo. UB students practice the delivery of bad news to CWC volunteers, who then grade the students on the level of compassion, whether they offered adequate support resources and whether the students reassured the patients that the patients would have doctoral support throughout treatment.

“These students were never trained on this before,” Ruchlin said. “They’d just learn it from other doctors. And if the other doctors weren’t compassionate, then that would just spread.”

The third CWC program is a monthly spirituality and healing class held at Daemen College in Amherst. Led by Dr. Charles Sabatino and Dr. Cheryl Nosek, these classes are offered because of the link between a patient’s spiritual inclination and quality of life (these seminars do not involve religion, Ruchlin noted).

Having worked in the cancer support field most of her life, Ruchlin started the CWC more than 12 years ago because of what she saw as an inadequate offering of encouragement for cancer patients.

“We saw the need in the community,” said Ruchlin, who said the CWC moved to NT about two years ago from Buffalo. “We really care. We want (patients) to get the best possible care.”

Since its founding, the CWC has helped hundreds of local patients, as well as patients as far away as Canada, England and France, Baia said.

With one phone call, Baia said, a patient can receive any CWC service free of charge. Grants, donations and volunteer services keep the center afloat. While she doesn’t enjoy the fiscal part of the job, Ruchlin said that finding the funding is worth it.

“When someone’s been diagnosed, very often they isolate themselves. This brings them out,” said Ruchlin about the CWC. “They have a friend. They do not have to go through this by themselves.”

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Healing meeting sponsored by the Cancer Wellness Center; the topic is “How to Deal with Stress and Pain Through Guided Imagery and Mind Body Communication”

• WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20

• WHERE: Daemen College, Business Building room 107-109, Main Street, Amherst

• MORE INFORMATION: Call 694-1395 or visit cancerwellnesscenter.org

1
Text Only
Lifestyle
  • BOOK NOOK: Books lists spooky side of Western New York Ask anyone in Western New York -- or anywhere at all, really -- about ghost stories, and I'll bet they have one for you.

    October 22, 2012

  • Solving a murder in a convent

    May 29, 2012

  • adamczyk, ed Stories from the neighborhood, and the concentration camp

    The person with a haunted past is a familiar and reliable trope in literature and film, and perhaps all of us have something about which to be haunted. A book by Lewiston resident Joseph Leary, “Klara,” sharply explains a story of past misdeeds in a well-written and evocative novel.

    May 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • Some tips for the fathers-to-be

    All of a sudden, I’m getting to feel like a bit of an ol’ pro at this fatherhood thing.

    May 21, 2012

  • Jill Keppeler Clueless and late to the garden party

    The more I get into this whole gardening thing, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

    It started not long after I finished my first “Clueless Gardener” column, when I walked into a store with the idea of making some gardening purchases. Seeds, I thought. Maybe some plants to transplant. But mainly, seeds. That’s kind of the point of a garden, right?

    May 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • crittercompanions2012.jpg Easy ways to enrich your pet's life and help the environment

    The day has come were my finely articulated words have been placed on the bottom of my bird cage to be soiled upon. Sure, it was funny when it was Joe Biden’s face or another writer’s work. But mine? So cruel. So proud.

    May 21, 2012 1 Photo

  • 120215 COPPER2.jpg All that glimmers

    Even during a drizzly February day, Gleam & Glimmer Stained Glass Studio is full of light.
    It shines through the stained glass pieces in the front of the Webster Street shop, glances off mosaics and jewelry and lands on the works in progress in the studio area, where students can learn to create their own multi-colored art.
    That’s exactly the way co-owner Suzanne Todaro likes it.

    March 8, 2012 1 Photo

  • Danielle Haynes mug HAYNES: Sizing up the Oscars

    The big show is tonight and for the first time in my life, I have managed to catch every single movie nominated for the best picture award.

    February 25, 2012 1 Photo

  • PopcornBar.jpg COLUMN: Make your popcorn red carpet-worthy

    Annual movie award shows are the perfect excuse for hosting a party.

    February 25, 2012 1 Photo

  • 120215 chocolate pie1.jpg HAYNES: Celebrating the Oscars with a little 'Help' in the kitchen

    February 25, 2012 1 Photo