With new therapies in development every year, the field of cancer treatment is constantly evolving. But even under the best of circumstances, facing a cancer diagnosis takes a physical, emotional and financial toll on patients and their families.
Since 1964, the Cancer Society of Greenville County has offered hope and emotional support, as well as practical assistance to ease the financial burden of major illness. The organization, which is not affiliated with the American Cancer Society, focuses on improving the quality of life for all those affected by cancer, rather than funding research.
Lisa Green, executive director, says the group offers free patient, caregiver and bereavement support groups and individual counseling to anyone with a cancer diagnosis. Nutritional supplements and medical supplies like gloves, hospital bedsheets, wheelchairs and walkers are available, as well as wigs, hats and turbans.
“For patients with incomes up to 200% of the poverty line, we pay for medications and other bills including transportation assistance, whether it’s a taxi or Uber, or reimbursing a neighbor who takes them to their treatments,” Green says. “Patients with rare cancers that can’t be treated locally are reimbursed for mileage, hotel and meals. We do whatever it takes, serving 4,000 patients every year.”
The Cancer Society of Greenville County also has two nurse educators on staff who provide cancer awareness and prevention programs for the general public. They are available to speak to business, church and civic groups and provide outreach to at-risk or underserved populations with information about nutrition and recommended screenings.
“Two-thirds of cancers can be prevented through lifestyle measures such as exercising, not smoking, and eating a plant-based diet,” Green says. “Cancer isn’t just in your genes. There’s a lot you can do, like limiting the amount of processed meats and fast food you eat.”
It’s also important to know which screenings to get, and not to delay seeking treatment.
“As an organization, we’re here, we’re open, we’re safe,” Lisa Green, executive director, Cancer Society of Greenville County says. “We have drive-up service; we’re going to protect our clients.”
“Both local hospital systems and affiliated cancer institutes have seen a drop in patients diagnosed with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Green says. “We’re seeing patients come in at a later stage, when they have fewer treatment options, saying, ‘I was afraid to go to the doctor.’ If you have symptoms, don’t ignore them.”
Green encourages patients not to delay seeking services from the Cancer Society of Greenville County due to fears of COVID-19.
“As an organization, we’re here, we’re open, we’re safe,” she says. “We have drive-up service; we’re going to protect our clients.”
In September, the Community Foundation of Greenville gave the Cancer Society of Greenville County an $8,000 capacity-building grant. The funds were used towards technology upgrades, including the purchase of new computers and operating systems to allow employees to better carry out the organization’s mission. The upgrades facilitate everything from grant-writing and receiving patient referrals to posting on social media to get the word out about seminars.
“We communicate with all of the oncologists in Greenville, keep data tracking every service we provide by demographic group, and reach out to patients,” Green says. “The new software and computers enable us to do all of that.”
“The Community Foundation appreciates how updated technology allows the Cancer Society of Greenville County to dramatically improve its effectiveness in serving cancer patients and their families,” says Bob Morris, CFG president. “Everyone has a family member or colleague that has courageously moved forward through diagnosis and treatment. The Cancer Society of Greenville County provides medical equipment and peer-to-peer counseling to facilitate the recovery process.”
For more information, visit www.cancersocietygc.org.