Volunteers and other personnel involved with the Corry unit of the American Cancer Society have vowed to continue operating the organization once the office at East Main Street and Center Street closes its doors the end of October.
The Corry community learned this week about the local office closing, and the sign has been taken off the building.
For people like Doris Gernovich, who is not only a member of the local cancer society’s board of directors but also is a cancer survivor, that kind of news is hard to swallow.
“My concern is that I think board members and other people who are members are very dedicated to making this work,” Gernovich said. “But as a cancer survivor, I’m disappointed because we did meet our goal at Relay for Life this year.”
This year’s Relay for Life goal was $68,000. The teams raised $69,818.
Gernovich said the Corry community always comes through.
“Corry seems to always step up to the plate,” Gernovich said.
As volunteers with the cancer society, Gernovich and her husband, Alex, are involved in the Road to Recovery program. The Gernoviches are two of several local volunteers who transport cancer patients to treatment centers.
“We’ve gone to Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Erie, and Warren,” Gernovich said.
But to transport patients to places like Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., volunteers must undergo training each year. They must prove they have a valid driver’s license and meet other requirements.
The Road to Recovery is one of several programs that will continue in Corry after Oct. 29, when the office closes at the end of the business day, said Karen Silvis, volunteer leadership council president with the Corry unit.
She said other programs that will continue include Man to Man, which started out as a program for men with prostate cancer but has expanded to became a program for men who have survived any kind of cancer.
“Men can get a PSA (prostate screening) test done for free,” said Silvis, whose husband, John, is also a cancer survivor.
The Look Good, Feel Better program will also continue.
“The program goes over all the steps of looking good and feeling better,” Silvis said.
Wigs are also available through the program.
“Our wigs are at Shear Cuts by Pamela Walton on Center Street,” said Silvis, who added that Corry has a local liaison for Look Good, Feel Better.
“The program used to be for anyone who wanted a wig,” Silvis said.
But with the slowed economy, the cancer society has been hard-hit, too, Silvis said, and qualifications for a wig have changed slightly.
“Patients may qualify for a brand-new wig or a used one, depending on their insurance,” Silvis said.
Wigs can also be purchased for a starting price of $29, Silvis said.
“All our wigs are washed and sanitized,” Silvis said.
Silvis also said the local cancer unit will continue to grow its commitment to the community by recruiting and training new volunteers. They will also continue to increase referrals from care providers and offer events, as in the past.
“Volunteer efforts helped the Corry unit serve 101 cancer survivors and provide 325 cancer services since last September,” Silvis said.
Once the local offices close, patients should call the toll-free number at (800) 227 2345 as soon as they are diagnosed, Silvis said.
“That has not changed,” Silvis said. “The majority of people we serve call that number.”
Callers will be directed to someone who will answer their questions. The caller will also be connected to a local person in charge of the Road to Recovery program.
Silvis said the local cancer unit has a lot of work in front of them before the office closes.
“There is a lot of stuff that has to be fine-tuned,” she said.
She said the decision to close the Corry office started in Harrisburg, then moved to Pittsburgh, and then to Corry.
“They weighed all the information,” Silvis said. “They felt this one could be cut without too much damage.”
It’s hard to figure, for Silvis, too, since Corry programs like Relay for Life have been successful.
Gernovich is puzzled, too, as to why the Corry unit’s office would close, especially since there seems to be a lot of cancer patients in the area.
“It’s unfortunate, because for our area seems to have a high rate of cancer and they’re closing this office,” Gernovich said.