Circle of Support
Cancer was a battle my family thought we could fight on our own. I was in 3rd grade when my father was first diagnosed with cancer. This was a personal struggle for our family, and in the process of getting my father treatment, we often shut people out and turned down offers for help. However, the summer before my freshman year of high school the cancer came back. This time, I realized how vital a support system was. My brother and sister had gone off to college, and it was only me, my mom, and my dad at home. My mom and I started opening up to our community seeking help, and help came. It came from friends who would bring over meals, neighbors who offered to walk our dogs, or even parents who offered to drive me to school. These simple acts of kindness allowed our family to focus on my dad and his treatment. By taking on our burdens, our community gave us the most precious gift: time to spend with my dad.
Circles of Support spreads awareness and provides resources on how to assist the caregivers and family members of cancer patients so their their attention and focus can be on their loved one. Through this program I have identified a system of three separate but interconnected support levels surrounding a cancer patient: immediate family members, close friends and other family members, and the community surrounding the patient. Each of these levels have a unique role to play in supporting the caregivers and family members of cancer patients.
As Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen I have been able to partner with a variety of organizations in my local community around the state, specifically targeting caregivers and family members. Through my partnership with the American Cancer Society of Wisconsin I am able to identify cancer patients and their caregivers, as well as volunteering at Relay for Life events and even cooking meals for guests at the “Hope Lodge”. I have also partnered with the Wisconsin Cancer Council which works directly with communities to create a collaborative and strategic approach in combining, sharing, and coordinating resources to reduce the burden of cancer on patients and families. In order to directly reach communities, I have developed activities and presentations I am able to take into schools educating kids on how cancer affects families and the simple acts of kindness they can do to serve others.
The goal of Circles of Support is to educate the caregivers of cancer patients about the multiples sources of support they have around them, and to ensure that communities are well prepared to provide the vital support needed. The love and support my family felt from our community allowed us to focus on what was important: my dad and the time we spent with him. Cancer comes in many forms and many stages, but a family is always affected. Through Circles of Support I am an advocate for patients, but more importantly I am an advocate for families.