Prince George’s County resident Debra Ellis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. After beating and living cancer free for a few years, Ellis joined Bethesda, Md.-based Hope Connections for Cancer Support. She described the center as a safe haven for her once her cancer returned in 2007.
“When they opened their doors and I visited for the first time I felt like I was at home,” she told the AFRO.
Since then, Hope Connections opened another facility in Landover, Md. in October of 2016.
Prince George’s County is one of the most underserved communities when it comes to cancer, according to Avon and Komen research studies. Hope Connections provides a number of cancer support groups at both locations, including weekly caregivers and a yoga class in the County.
“I got to stretch my body out after it being injected with chemotherapy and drugs. It allowed me to feel my body again,” Ellis said. “It even took me from being a cancer patient into making other decisions about my life.
The organization recently celebrated ten years of service during an annual gala on March 16.
The organization’s founders include President and CEO Paula Rothenberg and Bob and Bonnie Kogod. The three came together after losing family members to the illness.
Hope Connections provides free emotional, educational, and social support to cancer patients. The organization provides services such as nutrition, pain management, and mind and body classes, in addition to several others. All services are free.
The new location has suffered no short comings in relation to funding and ability to service patients with the same quality as the Bethesda location, said Landover campus-office manager, Renee Wells. Although the patient turn-out has been slow to start, with roughly 110 visitors since the facility has opened, administrators are confident there will be an increase in patients as word of the new location spreads.
“This is incredibly inspiring work. This is the most important job I’ve done in my career. What I’ve gotten out of it is more than what I’ve put into it,” Rothenberg says of her experience running Hope Connections for Cancer support.