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Share the hope 

Enjoy an elegant gourmet dinner at Hearst Castle to help cancer patients

click to enlarge POSITIVE VIBES :  The supportive community for cancer patients at French Hospital includes, from left to right (back row): Debby Nicklas, Bev Kirkhart, Kathy Tangeman; (front row) Janelle La fond, Judi Belanger, Doris Goodill, JB Bates, and Shijo-kinko - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • POSITIVE VIBES : The supportive community for cancer patients at French Hospital includes, from left to right (back row): Debby Nicklas, Bev Kirkhart, Kathy Tangeman; (front row) Janelle La fond, Judi Belanger, Doris Goodill, JB Bates, and Shijo-kinko
On the second floor of French Hospital’s Pacific Medical Plaza, tucked away from the exam rooms, patient beds, and lab equipment, there’s a little-known wing that treats the souls of cancer patients. The Hearst Cancer Resource Center has a beauty salon with wigs for chemo patients and a yoga studio. It offers a myriad of quality-of-life services —support groups, nutritional consultations, knitting circles, even a Laughter Club —all free and open to everyone, all made possible through volunteer work and community donations.

The center’s biggest annual fundraiser, Share the Hope, will feature a wine-and- champagne reception at the Neptune Pool, a gourmet dinner catered by Maegen Loring, live music, and an auction. The resource center’s director Bev Kirkhart expects to raise more than $100,000. All proceeds will go directly to the center and its patients. Tickets for the sumptuous affair cost $400.

“This will be our third Share the Hope event, and it’s always been a fun, wonderful experience that celebrates survivors,” said Kirkhart. “This center gives people the resources they need to feel they aren’t alone and the inspiration they need to fight the disease.”

The center was started by Dr. Tom Vendigna, who introduced the idea to French Hospital in 2004, a year after his own bout with sarcoma.  “It took an extraordinary amount of effort to organize my treatment between the various specialists,” Vendigna recalled. “It was overwhelming for me, and I’m a doctor.”

Getting the funding and organization together was an arduous process, until Vendigna treated Steve Hearst’s brother after an accident and convinced the family, who lost a sister to cancer, to donate the initial contribtuion.

Vendigna developed a “Nurse Navigator” position, a certified nurse whose main focus is scheduling treatments and securing at-home-care. This allows weak and weary chemo patients to focus on recovery instead of stressing over paperwork.

The numerous other quality-of-life services were a natural progression. New studies are pushing oncology treatments toward a more holistic approach, Vendigna observed.

 “People are so serious about cancer,” said J.B. Bates, a breast cancer survivor, “But you need a release. I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for this place.”

Bates spends most of her free time partcipating in the center’s activities with her dog Shijo-kinko, the center’s unofficial mascot. Like many other local survivors, she keeps attending even though she’s overcome her illness. The lasting friendships she made there gave her the hope and determination to fight the cancer.

 “These guys are the best,” said Bates. “So giving and patient. They are just remarkable.”

For tickets to the fundraiser, call the Hearst Cancer Resource Center at 542-6234

Fast Facts

North County Humane Society will hold a Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, April 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2300 Ramona Road in Atascadero. All pets will receive a loving, personal blessing from ordained clergy and will be given a commemorative certificate. All creatures are welcome! Telephone 466-5403 for information

An Easter egg hunt, costume contest, and egg coloring contest will be held on Saturday morning, April 3 on the lawn at the South Bay Community Center at the corner of Los Osos Valley Road and Palisades Avenue in Los Osos. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The events are open for children from two to seven years old. The Bay-Osos Kiwanis Club is sponsoring the festivities. Call 801-4444

Susan K. Boyd, MS, MFT, a marriage and family therapist, has opened her private practice at 1150 Osos Street in San Luis Obispo. She has been counseling for 18 years, and specializes in therapy for relief of such disorders as OCD, PTSD, and general anxiety. In addition, Boyd counsels people who are struggling with transitions from college and career changes and provides help in resolving marriage and parenting issues. See susankboydMFT.com or call 782-9800.

Intern Nick Powell wrote Strokes&Plugs this week. Send your business and nonprofit news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

 

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