June 05, 2019

Local Cancer Support Organizations to Benefit from Signature Event Auction

By Mallory Siegfried and Jennifer Khawam

The Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® 7th Annual Signature Event with Amy Robach will include a charity auction in support of the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley and the Women’s 5K Classic. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on unique items that include memorabilia signed by the Lehigh Valley’s very own Saquon Barkley, a round of golf for three at Lehigh Country Club, spa packages, in-home dinner parties with a private chef, vacations, housecleaning services, and much more.

In addition to the auction, there will be a “Tree of Hope” display. Attendees will be able to purchase paper leaves, write messages to loved ones who have faced or are facing cancer, and place them on the tree. All monies raised will be split between the above organizations.

Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley

“We laughed, and right before he was leaving, he looked at me and said, ‘You know Amanda, this is the first time that I’ve laughed in about two years.’”

That’s what an older gentleman who had just received a cancer diagnosis told Executive Director Amanda Buss of the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley after visiting the organization in Allentown.

The mission of the Cancer Support Community is to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. The organization, which relies completely on donations, has helped people affected by cancer actively engage in their health care, connect with others, reduce stress and isolation, and restore hope for a better quality of life. There are support groups, educational workshops, wig salon events, healthy cooking classes, exercise classes that include T’ai Chi, yoga and karate, and so much more. And it’s all free to those affected by cancer.

“We probably see over 3,000 people a year who come through and take advantage of our programs,” Buss said about the organization, which serves five local counties, including Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe and Warren. “We’ve been here 15 years, so we’ve touched over 40,000 people.”

The organization also partners with local hospitals for patient referrals and brings in doctors to discuss different topics, such as chemotherapy side effects, diagnosis-specific information, and information on clinical trials. All programs, including educational ones, are available to people of all ages and of all cancer diagnoses.

Addressing the mental health of those going through a cancer diagnosis, as well as those who take care of them, is important to the organization.

“You really can't take care of someone else if you're not taking care of yourself,” Buss said. “You've got to be your best person to take care of you, and then be able to take care of someone else who is in a crisis situation.”

Buss herself, who has been living with metastatic breast cancer for the past nine years, found solace in the Cancer Support Community.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 28 and my daughter at the time was four or five,” she said. “I really didn't know how to explain to her what cancer was, what was going to be happening to me, why I wouldn't have hair. I found the Cancer Support Community myself and attended programs.

“My daughter and I attended programs together and it was just so life-changing for both of us. She got some tools that she needed to have confidence, to ask me questions and to understand a little bit more about what's going on. I was able to meet other parents going through this journey as well and was able to get some advice from them and also share my experiences. It was just a win for all of us.”

The Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley is open to help and funding since their programs are offered to their members at no cost.

“Funding is one of our needs,” Buss said. “We like to partner with businesses to maybe help offset some costs. If they want to come in and do some painting or some handyman work, and also, too, any kind of drive that will help our members. We have a lot of local colleges and groups, Girl Scout troops that will collect chemo care bags. They'll put together a little bag with, say, tissues and a crossword puzzle book… anything just to brighten someone’s day.”

For more information on how you can take advantage of the Cancer Support Community’s programs, or to find out how you can get involved with the organization, visit https://www.cancersupportglv.org.

Women’s 5K Classic

Some races are for kicks. Some races are for glory. The Women’s 5K Classic is a race for life.

Since 1993, the Women’s 5K Classic has raised funds to support Greater Lehigh Valley organizations that share its mission of promoting fitness among women of all ages, assisting women and families affected by breast and other female cancers, and educating women about breast cancer awareness, prevention and treatment.

When the race first began, about 250 women participated and raised $2,500, which was donated to Lehigh Valley Hospital. Since that time, the race has grown to nearly 5,000 participants annually and includes a competitive walk, a 5K run, a Pink Ribbon Loop, and a Friday Night Health Expo.

Since the very first dollar was raised, more than $3 million has been invested in the Lehigh Valley community. The Women’s 5K Classic, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that takes over the Little Lehigh Parkway in Allentown every October, has touched the lives of over 13,000 women and their families.

According to Ingrid Gerber, a member of the Women’s 5K Classic Board of Directors and Co-founding Committee, every dollar raised by one of the largest all-women events remains in the Lehigh Valley and supports local programs, organizations and institutions.

“We’ve given over $3 million and it all stays local,” Gerber said. “We follow up on all of our grants to make sure the money is being used for what it was intended for. The oversight allows for full transparency so that you know that every donation is going to the cause.”

Gerber added that the Women’s 5K Classic doesn’t hold onto the raised money for long. The goal is to have all funds distributed by December 31.

What grants are being funded? We’re glad you asked. Some of the 2018-2019 funded grant programs include (the full list and who to contact to take advantage of these programs can be found at https://womens5kclassic.org):
 
  • Allentown YMCA – Beautiful You Breast Cancer Recovery Program: Provides a support group for women with cancer, group exercise classes that include yoga, aqua fitness and Zumba, cooking classes, health lectures, seminars and some memberships.
  • Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center: Creation of a support group for LGBT cancer survivors and their caregivers.
  • Cancer Support Community: Provides free breast and GYN cancer support groups. These regularly scheduled groups emphasize tools for a healthy lifestyle and educational workshops as well as bring hope to women diagnosed with breast and GYN cancers, their family members and caretakers.
  • Girls on the Run of Lehigh Valley: Inspires girls from grades 3-8 while building confidence and self-esteem through running. Also utilizes a lifestyle curriculum.
  • St. Luke’s Gnaden Huetten Campus: Provides screening and diagnostic mammography for uninsured and underinsured women. Available to St. Luke’s patients.
  • Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network: Provides lymphedema garments to uninsured or underinsured female cancer patients who require compression garments.
Registration is now open for the Women’s 5K Classic on October 5, 2019. For more information on the Women’s 5K Classic and/or to register, visit https://womens5kclassic.org.