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New Cancer-Support Resources Available

7/23/2021

If you or am loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you have local resources and support available to you. Learn more. Sponsored by Whole Health Family Medicine Clinic and San Juan Basin Public Health

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Toni, tell me about Blueprints of Hope. How did it start? What made you do it? And what you've done over the last seven years?

Thanks for asking. Sure, in 2014, we decided to start Blueprints of Hope because we recognized that the supportive care programs for cancer patients in Southwest Colorado were lacking, like they are everywhere across this nation.

But what exciting thing is happening today in this week?

What's exciting today is that you're in town and we are celebrating our charter ceremony with the Cancer Support Community who we affiliated with in March of this year.

And how did you find us?

I have been searching for the right supportive care programs, psychosocial programs, for cancer patients in our community for a long time. And I knew Susan Ashley, who is your program director for clinical services. And I called her and I said, "Susan, you've got to help us. How do we start a support program that is going to be applicable to every body at every stage of cancer?" And she said, "Let me call you." And she did. And she got us connected to the Affiliation Team, and that was over a year ago, and we've been working on this affiliation ever since.

So Toni, if I am a member of the community of Southwestern Colorado, and I'm just diagnosed, what do I do?

We have a lot of folks that just call us and they ask that exact same question, and I just help them or walk them through the process as a nurse navigator so that they're not afraid to call their oncologist. And I try really hard to get them into the clinic as soon as possible. And then I let them know that we're here for them no matter what kind of issues that they're facing as they're going through their treatment and afterwards, so we can educate them about their diagnosis, we can educate them, as I said, about the process, and then we can assess them and point them to the programs that might be helpful for them going forward. We really want to build a community of support for those people, because there's nothing worse than facing cancer alone.

We have a number of people across our affiliate network that can also step in, right? There are some circumstances where they have a unique cancer diagnosis of a very rare cancer that might, in the community of Southwestern Colorado, not have a lot of folks, but now you'll be able to reach out to our affiliates across the country and find out if they have other people like them so we can build community, we can connect them so that people in this local community can learn from other people's experiences.

There's just so many more resources that we can point our patients to that we didn't have in the past.

Absolutely.

What the Cancer Support Community in Southwest Colorado needs is: We need board members, we'd like to double our board, our long range plan is to have a cancer house or a house of healing. It's been one of our goals since we were Blueprints of Hope. And it was so cool that you guys have the same kind of goals with your affiliates, that we have a place where all things cancer can happen. And so in order to do that, we're going to be doing a capital campaign, trying to raise money from our community to have that house where everything cancer happens and people with cancer can find a sense of community.

Absolutely. One of the things that's important to us is the fact that we want it to be a home-like setting. We don't want people walking into something that's sterile and feels like an office, 'cause that's what doctor's offices look like. We want people to come into our facilities and have it feel like it's their living room. We have a fire going. Most of our affiliates have kitchens where people can just help themselves to coffee and food. And it's just, some people say, where they can let their hair down or take their wig off, whichever one works for them, right?

Exactly, yes.

Just to feel comfortable, at home, around people that know exactly what they're going through. Again, our whole thing is about reducing anxiety and helping people feel more comfortable and confident in their cancer journey.

Yes, thank you.

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