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South County’s Cancer Resource Center

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image Lyn Meyers, a chemo-certified Registered Nurse at South Bay Hospital says computers now play a large part in chemotherapy treatment. Penny Fletcher Photo

Open House on Thursday, July 19.

By PENNY FLETCHER

RUSKIN — You don’t have to be a patient of a local doctor or be using local medical facilities to take advantage of the things that are offered free at the new Cancer Resource Center sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

In fact, you don’t even have to have cancer to go in, look around, and receive help, support or even take out items.

“Concerned friends and family of cancer patients are welcome to come in and pick up things for others,” said Tricia Gerbino, a volunteer at the new resource center that’s holding its Grand Opening today. “I am just so blessed to get to work here. When my dad- who is a cancer survivor- saw the notice about this place opening come out in the paper, he held it up just like this and said ‘Tricia, this is for you,’ ”she said, holding up a stack of brochures in front of her face.

Anne Corriea, a charge nurse at South Bay Hospital, which has donated a room and has   staff and volunteers manning the project, coordinates the people working on it while RN Lyn Meyers and several other specially-certified chemotherapy nurse work with the patients medically.

Together the team encourages patients and their families as they go through their treatments and for as long afterward as needed, Meyers said.

“South Bay Hospital is excited to partner with the American Cancer Society on our new Cancer Resource Center,” said Sharon Roush, Chief Executive Officer at South Bay Hospital. “We look forward to serving our community by offering free resources to those in treatment for cancer.”

Recently a photographic event was planned by local photographers Huth and Booth to photograph breast cancer survivors in beautiful gowns and at all kinds of events and the photographs hang on the walls of the cheery room where people may go to get information and cosmetic items like wigs, scarves, caps, specially-made brassieres and even some prosthetic breast cups.

“Everything helps the women feel better about themselves,” Gerbino said.

Meyers explained the American Cancer Society collects data from all sources where cancer patients are found including the hospital, to look for trends and apply for research grants.

Everything offered in the new cancer resource office is free.

The volunteers say there are many things people can do to help.

Women who knit can make caps. Baby shampoo, Woolite and wig shampoo are always in demand as wigs cannot be washed in regular store-bought shampoo. Money can be donated to the American Cancer Society and scarves of all types can be collected, washed and donated.

But most of all, word of mouth can be spread about the annual local Relay for Life which is a big way people can donate money to help fight cancer, said hospital spokeswoman Natalia Diaz.

The cancer resource office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and more volunteers are needed to man it. Although four of the current volunteers are cancer survivors, you do not have to have a personal connection with the disease to help.

Tricia said her grandmother died of cancer, and her dad is a survivor. She also had a priest who has gone through chemotherapy treatments.

“I think every family has had some connection with cancer and knows to a certain extent what patients go through,” Gerbino said.

Gerbino personally writes a thank-you card to everyone who comes in looking for help or support.

“Thank you so much for visiting with us. If there is anything else we can do to help you please do not hesitate to call or come back by,” one example said.

The Open House will be held today- Thursday, July 19 - from 10 a.m. to noon in the main lobby of South Bay Hospital, 4016 Sun City Center Blvd., Sun City Center.

There will be a free skin cancer screening offered, as well as much information, brochures and other giveaways.

Some of the brochures to be given away include information on “Cleaning for a Reason,” a free housecleaning service provided once a month for four months while a person is in treatment. All that is needed is to have a doctor fax a note confirming the treatment.

There is also a booklet put out by the American Cancer Society called TLC listing wigs and other head coverings and cleaners for them that can be ordered from them at great reduction over store prices and dozens of telephone numbers that could be useful at certain times, like support group information and temporary financial assistance numbers.

Information on Reach to Recovery — a woman-to-woman group where survivors help current patients — and Relay for Life to collect money for research and patient care will also be readily available.

For more information about the American Cancer Society, contact Area Patient Services representative Nancy Nethery at 12810 USF Magnolia Drive, Tampa; 813-319-5919 or email her at nancy.nethery@cancer.org.

For information about the new Cancer Resource Center at South Bay Hospital, call 813-634-0396 or stop by during business hours.

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