Cancer has been a major part of my life for almost 75 years, both as a patient and a caregiver. At 14, I was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma – an aggressive bone cancer that required the amputation of my left leg, above the knee. I was totally devastated – I felt as if I had lost my active childhood and my future. With the help of my family, I learned to cope with all the physical and emotional pain that followed and went on to lead a full, productive life. My mother wisely told me that I had but two choices in coping with my cancer – I could be “bitter or better”. I chose to be better and this principle has guided my whole life. When my husband was later diagnosed with multiple cancers, caregiving became part of my life, as it is for so many people.
These experiences taught me so much about vulnerability and resilience. In 1981, I started Hope & Cope because I knew that cancer can be a frightening, lonely experience. I was determined to create a “one-stop shop” where patients and their families could find the support they need, and equally determined to offer these life-changing programs free of charge.
From the day Hope & Cope opened its doors almost 40 years ago, we made a promise – to help people cope with cancer. Thanks to a supportive community of committed donors, dedicated volunteers and highly skilled staff, we have kept that promise. Today, we are in the middle of a pandemic and we have adapted our programs and support to a socially-distanced, online reality and are providing compassionate financial support to patients and families, where needed. Cancer does not stop for COVID-19 and with your generous support, neither will we. You can count on it!
A big virtual hug to all. Stay safe.
Sheila Kussner, O.C., O.Q., C.O.M.