Hope Cancer Resources
Support for the journey and education for life
By Kara Isham
Photos courtesy of Hope Cancer Resources
In these uncertain times, it is good to feel certain about something. And the staff at Hope Cancer Resources wants those struggling with a cancer diagnosis to feel certain that the organization is still doing everything it can to support them during the pandemic.
While the pandemic has had an effect on how the organization interacts with cancer patients and their families, the organization is still doing everything it can to help support those affected by cancer.
“We have been very fortunate that we have been able to maintain our level of service during this time,” says Brian Holt, president and CEO at Hope Cancer Resources. “We’ve had to make a lot of changes to procedures and protocols to keep patients and staff as safe as we could.”
Hope Cancer Resources was formed 11 years ago with the blending of Northwest Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute and HOPE, Inc. The nonprofit’s mission is to offer compassionate, professional cancer support and education in the region – with a goal to provide hope and enhance the quality of life for those diagnosed with cancer.
The nonprofit is unique in that it is independent and not part of any hospital program or cancer care clinic, which means the organization can serve local cancer patients as well as those from surrounding areas who receive cancer treatments in Northwest Arkansas.
Hope Cancer Resources is also unique in the broad scope of services the nonprofit offers. Those services include providing patients with access to social workers, a Spanish-language interpreter and certified health education specialists; arranging transportation services to and from cancer-related appointments as needed; and offering financial assistance for prescription medications, nutritional supplements and everyday living expenses.
One of the most important ways the organization helps cancer patients, and their families, is by providing the emotional support needed for healthy survivorship. “On a daily basis when we have a conversation with someone, we always have a listening ear,” Holt says. “We are able to help people navigate the landscape of changes that cancer can bring. That is something I’m really glad we can do.”
A Fayetteville native, Holt remembers how important it was for his family to receive straight-forward, honest information when his dad was diagnosed with cancer. He knows that cancer affects every part of a person’s life – physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. “It’s scary for people who are going through things they never imagined they would,” Holt says. “And we help those people through the process.”
With the arrival of COVID-19, some of the organization’s services had to be paused or altered for the safety of patients and staff. “We definitely had to think outside the box and serve our patients in a safe manner,” says Christy Scarrow, vice president of patient services for the organization.
Proper safety precautions are now in place, and Hope Cancer Resources’ social workers have returned to the clinics to help patients assess their needs and talk through treatment options. Moreover, the organization’s transportation vans are being limited to one client per trip, with both the client and the driver wearing a mask.
The nonprofit’s workout facility is currently closed due to the pandemic – though a certified personal trainer is offering virtual workout videos instead of in-person classes for patients. Virtual yoga classes are also being offered.
Hope Cancer Resources also offers services for the family members of cancer patients, including counseling services for those who are dealing with their own stress and anxiety regarding their loved one’s diagnosis. Counseling sessions are currently being held via telephone and virtual platforms. And while group counseling sessions are normally provided, all in-person group sessions are paused for now.
With COVID-19 adding more stress to the lives of cancer patients, some of the nonprofit’s services — like its financial services and counseling services — have become even more in-demand.
In light of the pandemic, Hope Cancer Resources decided to cancel its annual fundraiser, Gentlemen of Distinction, which is usually held in October. Holt says the organization will miss the income from the event this year, and hopes that supporters will continue to donate to the organization and help fulfill its mission.
“We will continue to tell our story and hope it resonates with those who can support us,” he says.
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