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American Cancer Society touches lives

(ran PT edition)

Many of our lives or the lives of people we know have been touched by cancer. My father, Ambrose Devine, a Holiday resident, succumbed to cancer 15 years ago. During his illness, my dad was fortunate that my mother, my younger brother and his family, and my family were in Pasco County. Many residents are not so fortunate when cancer strikes.

However, our community certainly is fortunate to have the American Cancer Society, Pasco County Unit, here to serve patients and their families. Of all the services provided by the American Cancer Society, patient services touch the lives and hearts of cancer patients and their families the most. The American Cancer Society is the first place people should turn to for resources, information and guidance on cancer, and for practical help from someone who listens. It is also the place that potential volunteers should investigate. Please call Wilma Davis, 863-1019, regarding volunteer opportunities.

The society's help line, (800) 227-2345, provides 24-hour access to cancer information specialists. Information about cancer support programs and community services is also available.

The society's comprehensive patient services answer the emotional, physical, psychological and financial needs associated with cancer. A place to stay during treatment, equipment loans, support groups, even special programs for children _ from summer camp to scholarships _ help to ease the pain of cancer.

Two Winn-Dixie Hope lodges are operated by the society in Gainesville and Miami. Cancer patients can stay at a lodge free for the duration of their treatment. For cancer patients undergoing treatment elsewhere, financial assistance is available.

Transportation assistance also is available to cancer patients who must travel to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, either through its volunteer driver program, Road to Recovery, or through financial assistance.

Also, the society assists cancer patients with the cost of pain-relieving medication if insurance does not exist or excludes medication. In most cases, durable medical equipment rental assistance is possible. Emergency assistance may be available for unusual situations.

Support groups meet in a variety of locations for breast, laryngectomy and prostate cancer survivors. The Laryngectomy Club convenes at North Bay Hospital. Two general support groups meet monthly at area churches.

Here are three other programs:

+ I Can Cope, an education program designed to provide cancer patients and their loved ones with an understanding of their illness.

+ Look Good, Feel Better, a program facilitated by licensed cosmetologists that helps teach cancer patients how to maintain their appearance through the use of makeup, wigs and turbans. Patients are provided with a bag of cosmetics valued at $200.

+ Reach to Recovery, which is designed to reach women who have breast cancer. It is a visitation program by trained volunteers who are themselves breast cancer survivors.

A very special RSVP volunteer, Pearl Steinman, is a Reach for Recovery volunteer. A native of Chicago, Mrs. Steinman was a social worker at Hull Settlement House. Because it was short-staffed, she did everything at the agency. At one time, she even worked in its Head Start project as an early childhood educator. Before moving to Pasco County in 1975, she was the assistant to the first woman elected as a Chicago alderman.

For 10 years, Mrs. Steinman was a Pasco County school volunteer at Ridgewood High School and Calusa Elementary School. After her second bout with cancer, Mrs. Steinman went to the West Pasco American Cancer Society, where she began counseling cancer patients one on one. Because she was a survivor, Mrs. Steinman felt she could relate to breast cancer patients. She has great empathy for the women she counsels and even gives them her home telephone number in case they have questions or need a friend.

Mrs. Steinman also has found time to volunteer in her civic associations. Volunteering gives her a reason to get up each day, she says.

She says she is fortunate that her daughter and son-in-law live in Pasco County. She also has two adult grandchildren.

The Pasco County Unit needs more volunteers. Please consider becoming an American Cancer Society volunteer. Your services can help the society provide answers and save lives.

_ Carol Keyes is the director of RSVP in Pasco County. You can write to her c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

To volunteer

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: (813) 836-2203 or (850) 524-2203

Community Aging and Retirement Services: Port Richey, 862-9291; Land O'Lakes, 996-6509.