ABOUT US

Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor is a local nonprofit affiliate of The International Cancer Support Community (CSC), opening our doors in 2007. The Cancer Support Community is the largest and most comprehensive program in the country devoted solely to providing emotional support and education to people with cancer, their caregivers and children – all free of charge.

 

The Cancer Support Community is a resource for education and information, and a place to gain support – all in an environment of acceptance and hope. In our local community,  special outreach efforts to historically under-served portions of our community have been added – to ensure that we truly are serving all people affected by cancer.

OUR MISSION

Ensuring all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.

 

The Cancer Support Community is a resource for education and information, and a place to gain support – all in an environment of acceptance and hope. In our local community,  special outreach efforts to historically under-served portions of our community have been added – to ensure that we truly are serving all people affected by cancer.

 

There are five core programs at the Cancer Support Community:

1. Support

2. Education

3. Healthy lifestyle activities

4. Social events

5. Resource connections & financial assistance

The components of CSC programs have been shown to improve patient health, mental health, and quality of life. The Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor is a unique, grassroots organization that was founded locally by a group of committed community volunteers who have each been personally touched by cancer, and who understand that traditional medical treatment is only one piece of successful cancer care. A volunteer Board of Directors governs the Cancer Support Community, and program guidance is offered by a Professional Advisory Board, consisting of experts in the fields of oncology and social services.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - GENERAL

Q: What is the Cancer Support Community?

A: The Cancer Support Community is a community of people affected by cancer. We are a nonprofit organization offering free psychological and social support for the whole family, the whole time. Our services include support groups, stress management programs, exercise classes, educational workshops, and social activities. Our local CSC opened in 2007 and is an independent chapter of a national organization that started in 1982.

Q: How did the Cancer Support Community start locally?

A: Efforts that brought the Cancer Support Community to Greater Ann Arbor were spearheaded by local social worker Katie Pelz-Davis. When Katie’s husband Glenn was diagnosed with lung cancer in the late ’90s, Katie went in search of support services for her family – only to find they did not exist. To ensure other families would be able to find the support they needed, Katie pulled together a group of committed community volunteers who had each themselves been personally touched by cancer. This group understood that traditional medical treatment is only one piece of successful cancer care, and they set out to bring services to our area. The Cancer Support Community opened its doors locally in November 2007.

Q: How is the Cancer Support Community Linked with Glida's Club?

A: In 2011, the national headquarters offices of The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club became one combined organization – Cancer Support Community. Cancer Support Community is the largest professionally-led network of fee-free cancer support worldwide and is better equipped to meet the evolving needs of people touched by cancer by offering innovative and comprehensive support services.

Q: Why would someone need these services? Isn't medical treatment enough?

A: For many people, cancer affects much more than one’s physical body. People touched by cancer often also have emotional, psychological and social needs – and medical care might not be enough. Through research, we know that services like those offered at the Cancer Support Community (called psychosocial support services) succeed in decreasing fatigue, depression and anxiety and that they increase people’s ability to cope, their quality of life and even their immune system response. The evidence to support this type of care is so promising that the Institute of Medicine published a report stating that psychosocial care should be seen as an integral part of cancer care.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - SERVICES

Q: Who uses the Cancer Support Community?

A: Members of the CSC community are people who have cancer, their family members, friends, and children. They are people who want to improve the quality of their lives and become an active partner along with their physicians and healthcare team. People who have had cancer and have completed medical treatment also come to maintain their health while focusing on survivorship. No referral is needed – just come as you are!

Q: Can support people come even if the person with cancer does not?

A: Yes! We have specific groups for family and friends of the person with cancer, where people share their experiences, learn how to best support the person with cancer, and also take care of themselves. Support people are welcome to attend all other parts of the program, such as educational workshops, exercise, stress management classes, and social events.

Q: Do participants follow a specific program?

A: People decide for themselves which parts of the program they believe will help them improve their own well-being, or that they feel most comfortable with.

Q: How long can I participate at the Cancer Support Community?

A: As long as you feel that it is beneficial to you. Certain support groups are intended for people at specific phases of their cancer experience (e.g., active treatment, survivorship), but the majority of our programs are open to anyone affected by cancer, whether you or your loved one was diagnosed last week or years ago.

Q: What does it cost to participate?

A: Nothing! All programs and services are offered free of charge to all those who need them. Many people wonder where the money comes from to keep the center here for us. The CSC doesn’t receive any funding from the government or insurance companies. As a nonprofit organization, we raise most of our money through gifts from individuals, and a little from grants.

Q: Can't you receive these services at the hospitals?

A: The Cancer Support Community is the only organization of its kind in the greater Washtenaw County Area. While hospitals do have some support and educational activities, The Cancer Support Community offers a comfortable, home-like setting that helps you truly create a community of people who can understand your cancer journey. The Cancer Support Community offers a very comprehensive complement to the health care system. The Cancer Support Community works very closely with the local hospital and cancer centers, and many of the people who participate in services at CSC hear about us through the hospitals.

Q: Can't you receive these services at the American Cancer Society (ACS) or Hospice?

A: No. The Cancer Support Community offers services that are not offered at these other organizations. The ACS does offer some direct services, mostly related to resource referrals. They do not offer psychosocial support services (exercise, stress management, nutrition education, support groups, etc.) Hospice organizations work well with people at the end of life and after there has been a loss. At CSC we work with people from initial diagnosis, through cancer and beyond. This may mean people come to activities at the end stages of life, but it could also mean that they have been cancer free for many years. The Cancer Support Community has strong relationships with the local hospice organizations and the local chapter of ACS and we refer people to one another regularly.

Q: Are medical services available?

A: No. The program is meant to support and complement medical treatment. The Cancer Support Community does not have medical staff, and individuals are to seek their own treatment.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - FUNDING AND VOLUNTEERING

Q: How can I get involved?

A: There are many ways to get involved with this wonderful center. Of course, if you are touched by cancer you can come and use the services. Everything is free. You can volunteer – either regularly or for activities as they come up. You can make a donation of money, services or items the center needs. You can also get involved in a leadership capacity by volunteering on the Board of Directors, the Community Council or the Professional Advisory Board. If you would like to explore these, or other options, feel free to call Bonnie at the center, or look for opportunities online under the volunteer section.

Q: How is the program funded?

A: The Cancer Support Community is funded by a combination of private donations, fund-raising events, and grants. Gifts to the Cancer Support Community have immense value as we could not exist without this community support. Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.

Q: How do I review your finances?

A: We love it when people take a financial interest in The Cancer Support Community! Click here to review our 990 and annual report.

Q: Are there certain items you need donated?

A: Yes! Gifts of items we use regularly help us save money and direct those funds toward programs for cancer survivors and their loved ones. An updated list of needs can be provided through our office.

Q: What kinds of items do you accept for donation?

A: Below is a list of items that we are currently accepting for donation.

Kitchen & Bathroom Supplies:

  • Individually wrapped snacks
  • Bags of apples or oranges
  • Keurig coffee K-cups
  • Bottled water
  • Juice boxes
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags (kitchen and bathroom size)
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bottled water
  • Paper plates
  • Paper napkins

Office Supplies:

  • Printer paper
  • Blank name tags
  • Red 2 pocket folders
  • Four drawer filing cabinet

Q: Do you use volunteers in any way?

A: Yes! We have a very small paid staff. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Cancer Support Community. They do everything from greeting new participants and answering phones, to delivering calendars in the community, to running exercise programs. We encourage you to call the center if you would like to volunteer or submit a volunteer application online following the volunteer opportunities link.