Peters Township resident Jennifer Kehm has come up with an apt description for the Cancer Caring Center, for which she serves as development and liaison manager.
“We are what I dubbed 'the powerhouse of emotional care for the cancer community,'” she said. “Basically, what we do is try to emotionally support the patient during, after and beyond.”
And, Kehm said, there's a beneficial aspect for patients.
“It is 100% free to the patients,” Kehm said. “There is no co-pay. We don’t charge your insurance - nothing.”
The Cancer Caring Center, headquartered in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, has carried out its mission since 1988, but not everyone in the region is familiar with the nonprofit.
“I’ve lived in Pittsburgh all my life, and I didn’t know that the Cancer Caring Center existed,” Bethel Park resident Robin Scibek said.
She is on the 15-member committee for Serve2Cure: A Rally to Ace Cancer, an annual event at Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center that has raised more than $125,000 since 2011. This year’s beneficiary is the Cancer Caring Center.
“Having the opportunity to help them raise awareness and reach people they might not have reached otherwise: It’s really awesome to be part of that,” Scibek said.
Serve2Cure began as a U.S. Tennis Association-sponsored tournament, but the committee modified the format for 2018.
“We thought, we’d like to turn this more into a family kind of event,” Scibek said. “Let’s do something a little different, and maybe we can engage the community a little bit more.”
As a result, the offerings stretched beyond tennis to include health-related screenings and demonstrations, plus plenty of activities for youngsters. The new approach apparently worked well, especially for the beneficiary: the Pittsburgh Melanoma Foundation, which Peters Township resident Jessica Rogowicz co-founded.
“We were able to write a $25,000 check to them last year,” Scibek said.
“When we were looking at different organizations to benefit this year, the Cancer Caring Center kind of spoke to all of us in different ways," she added. "And so it was a unanimous vote for us in terms of a worthwhile organization to support.”
That came as good news to Kehm, who is a survivor, herself. She co-founded the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Foundation, a regional education and support organization, prior to joining the Cancer Caring Center team.
“Having a diagnosis is extraordinarily isolating and frightening,” she said. “And so what we aim to do is to be your partner through it and beyond.”
The center offers 29 monthly support groups, each for those who are dealing with different types of cancer.
“We have quite a few of those groups at the center in Bloomfield, but we also span out into the community, because not too many people like to cross bridges,” Kehm said. “We’ll cross for you.”
For more information, visit cancercaring.org.