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SCCR sees jump in donations, patients

Lauren MacGill

Morden Massage Therapy Centre owner Linda Menzies demonstrates lymph fluid drainage and a compression wrap on SCCR treasurer Wes Schroeder. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

Morden Massage Therapy Centre owner Linda Menzies demonstrates lymph fluid drainage and a compression wrap on SCCR treasurer Wes Schroeder. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

South Central Cancer Resource wrapped up a year filled with generous donations and new programs at their annual AGM on Nov. 23.

SCCR received a total of $166,779.47 in the 2016/2017 year. Just over $111,000 of that was third party donations, $34,143 came from United Way.

“We have done extremely well with our donations,” president June Letkeman said. “People have been so generous. This whole area is amazing when it comes to donating and supporting us.”

Because of the donations, SCCR was able to start three new programs this year. Beautiful You, in conjunction with Pure Anada, helped women undergoing treatment to relax and be pampered with makeovers.

Expression of Art Through Your Eyes gave cancer patients a chance to connect with one another and express themselves through art. Thiessen said the women who participated have stayed in touch, even after the art portion wrapped up. There is a wait list for the program.

SCCR also started a yoga program.

“It was my dream when I took over this position that we were able to do more for our clients than just take them to their appointments,” clinical resource coordinator Deb Thiessen said. “That can be draining on them, so [the programs] are to carry them through their cancer journey, helping them heal and reassess how the next step of their journey is going to be.”

Thiessen said SCCR also received an $8,000  donation that very evening from an donor in Manitou. Thanks to the amount of donations this year, SCCR put $50,000 into an endowment fund.

“That’s the joy of working in a community like we serve,” Thiessen said. “We’re more than happy to be here and be able to service our clients that have cancer.”

Guest speaker Linda Menzies, owner of Morden Massage Therapy Centre, shared information about lymphedema, a condition that she feels is often overlooked.

Lymphedema is a build up of protein-rich lymph fluid, which causes chronic swelling. Lymphedema symptoms can be present at birth, or it can be caused by damage to the lymphatic system from procedures like mastectomies, lumpectomies or traumatic injuries.

There is no cure for lymphedema, but it can be managed with proper treatments like lymph drainage and compression garments, which Menzies demonstrated.

Of course, getting treatment isn’t always easy for patients.

“Compression garments are covered in pretty much every province in Canada, Manitoba they are not,” Menzies said. “When the patient comes in, this is all private healthcare. They are paying out of pocket.”

Menzies pointed out that a compression treatment, including the wrap, would have been free for a patient in Winnipeg. That is not the case in Southern Manitoba. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority pays for lymphedema treatments inside the city, but the Regional Health Authority doesn’t cover treatments in other parts of the province.

Treatments for lymphedema can vary from person to person, but garments can cost in the hundreds of dollars. Thiessen said two weeks of treatment for one patient ended up costing $600. SCCR has a lymphedema program to help with the costs (patients get $500 a year toward treatments or garments).

“We’re trying to do our best by helping a little bit,” Thiessen said. “But I didn’t realize until two weeks ago what the extreme cost was to a client.”

Thiessen said they hope to shed some light on this issue to the Regional Health Authority next year. “This is something they need to expand on,” she said.

Menzies also donated $1,000 to SCCR on behalf of Morden Massage Therapy Centre at the meeting.

This past year, SCCR averaged one new patient a day.

“I don’t think that cancer has grown,” Thiessen said. “I just think we’re becoming more aware in the community. That was our goal this year, that we could reach out to more people, that they would know about us, that we weren’t always hearing, ‘If I only would have known.’”

“People are finding us more at the beginning of their journey than finishing all their radiation treatments and then finding out we’re here,” she added.

SCCR also underwent an office upgrade that they said has received a great response from clients.

This year, SCCR decided to focus their fundraising efforts on their annual fashion show and will no longer be holding a golf tournament. The 2017 Vintage Fashion Show raised over $23,000, and organizers hope it will continue to be as successful in the future.

SCCR is also hoping to raise awareness about prostate cancer and get more men into the doctor’s office to get checked.