Cancer Patients Benefit from Cape Wellness Collaborative

Cape Wellness Collaborative patient: ‘The whole experience is for the mind, body and soul’

By Bill O’Neill | Above photo by Julia Cumes

It was just three weeks before her wedding when Jennifer Keller, then 30, learned she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. By the end of 2015, after six months of chemotherapy, Keller said she was in “bad shape—mentally, physically and emotionally.”

That’s when a colleague told her about Cape Wellness Collaborative, a local nonprofit organization that provides integrative therapies free of charge for people with cancer. After contacting CWC, she learned patients receive a $250 card to use toward therapies. Keller, now 33, says she received massage therapy and Reiki therapy, as well as nutritional counseling.

Jennifer Keller, CWC’s volunteer coordinator

“The whole experience is for mind, body and soul, which I think is so wonderful,” says Keller. “When you’re going through cancer treatment, you just don’t have the money to spend on yourself. With all the medical bills, you’re not able to say, ‘I’m going to spend $100 on myself today.’”

Keller, who lives in Sandwich and works at Cape Cod Hospital as an ultrasound sonographer, started volunteering for the organization and is now the group’s volunteer coordinator. “I love that I can now give back to the organization that once helped me so greatly,” says Keller. She’s one of more than 250 people helped by CWC in the past two years. Keller says although her relapse rate is very high—she’s had Hodgkin’s lymphoma twice—she is currently in remission since her last stem cell transplant more than a year ago. Local musician Sarah Swain of Harwich founded CWC when she saw a need to connect people going through cancer treatment with integrative practitioners, including acupuncturists, chiropractors and yoga instructors. “Considering our goal was 25 people the first year and 50 the second, it’s grown beyond what I could have imagined,” says Swain.

“We don’t use the word ‘alternative’ because we don’t feel these therapies are an alternative to doctors,” says Swain. “I’ve always believed strongly in a holistic approach, and that it shouldn’t be an either/or or an us/them mindset as far as therapies go.
“Cancer is very financially taxing on families. We wanted to make sure that everybody has access to these therapies, no matter what their financial status.”

Swain uses her network of contacts to coordinate the Cape Cod Women’s Music Festival and Dancing With the Docs, the biggest fundraisers for CWC, which also receives funding from grants and donations. Dancing with the Docs pairs local physicians with expert dancers for a gala competition. The debut version raised more than $100,000 last March.

Fundraisers in 2018 will include Dancing With the Docs on Feb. 3, Race to the Pint at Cape Cod Beer in April and the Cape Cod Women’s Music Festival on May 12 at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis. Performers at past festivals have included Meghan Trainor, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Ruby Rose Fox.

For more information, visit capewellness.org or call 774-408-8477.

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