Realizing the importance of psychosocial care for cancer patients

by Melanie Sarver of the Cancer Support Community Young Leadership Council

It wasn’t until my first Red Ball that I realized that psychosocial care for cancer patients was “a thing.”  On October 19, 2012, I will attend my fourth Cancer Support Community (CSC) Young Leadership Council Red Ball.  Having lost my grandmother to cancer, I have always been interested in fundraising events for medical and scientific research.  However, the Cancer Support Community was the first organization that I had heard of that focused on psychosocial care.  After I immersed myself into the Young Leadership Council (YLC), I learned that not only is psychosocial care absolutely “a thing,” but also that it is just as essential as medical care in the face of a cancer diagnosis – and that it can make the difference between life and death.

While I initially became invested in this cause because of my grandmother, each time I hear another story about someone being affected by cancer – including my own aunt (a cancer survivor who has visited a Gilda’s Clubhouse!), or someone’s friend, sibling, parent, or loved one – my connection to the Cancer Support Community grows.  Cancer is a horrible disease, and the extensiveness of its reach continues to astonish me.  When I hear about how the Cancer Support Community has helped someone muster up the courage to fight the disease, or has given someone the tools and resources to develop a plan of attack, I wish for people living with cancer all over the country to have access to the kind of support that the Cancer Support Community provides.  The typical trials and tribulations of life are complicated enough to deal with on a daily basis.  I am sure everyone, at least once, has felt the debilitating effect of stress – perhaps of a job search, or an important exam, an unpleasant argument, etc.  Mentally and emotionally grappling with the realities of a cancer diagnosis must require a degree of patience, forgiveness, endurance, and courage that only an organization as specialized as the Cancer Support Community can help foster.

It has been a pleasure working alongside the other members of the YLC in an effort to raise the necessary funds that will allow the Cancer Support Community to reach the 13.5 million people living with cancer today.  These economic times make our endeavor even more challenging; but knowing how important our efforts are to the lives of all those impacted by cancer sustains us.  On October 19th, the YLC will demonstrate the magnitude of what New York City’s young adults can accomplish.  Yes, the Red Ball raises money for the Cancer Support Community, to help the organization continue its heroic efforts.  Equally important, however, is that the Red Ball teaches its supporters and attendees how important it is that society be cognizant of the psychosocial aspect of cancer care.  Without this event, I, like so many others, would never have realized how important the services and support provided by the Cancer Support Community are to the survival and recovery of cancer patients.  Whether or not you know this already, I invite you to join me on October 19th.  In the heart of New York City, we will come together to toast to the longevity of the Cancer Support Community, and we will celebrate the hope and strength that CSC bestows upon all of those affected by cancer.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit our website: www.CancerSupportCommunity.org/RedBall.  My fellow YLC members and I hope to see you there!

About Young Leadership Council

The mission of the Young Leadership Council (YLC), a group of young professionals, is to represent a new generation of leaders who are advancing the cause of social and emotional support for people living with cancer by raising awareness and organizing philanthropic initiatives to benefit the Cancer Support Community. The YLC is tasked with ensuring that the support for the Cancer Support Community continues. It was established in 2004 by GCWW Board Member Evan Berkley, who lost his father to cancer at age 19 and subsequently created the Be a Buddy Foundation to improve the lives of people living with cancer. YLC members work in the fields of film, television, marketing, entertainment law, corporate law, finance, and publishing. Since the group's inaugural event in September 2005, the YLC has successfully raised over $850,000 and brought the mission of Gilda's Club, and now the Cancer Support Community, to hundreds of new friends.

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