Cancer Family Care
Since opening our doors in 1971, Cancer Family provides “strength for the fight” in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Our mission is to strengthen the well-being and alleviate the suffering of any child, adult, or family coping with cancer. We carry out this mission by offering programs and services that focus on the mental health and psychological, emotional, and social welfare of cancer patients and families. We provide therapeutic counseling, along with free supplemental services, such as free wigs, oncology massage & Healing Touch therapy, which are aimed at improving clients’ quality of life. We are proud to offer guidance, comfort, and hope to more than 3,500 community members of all ages and backgrounds every year.
We are proud and grateful to be a beneficiary of the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. One-hundred percent of the funding support we receive from the Wine Festival goes to underwrite our personalized counseling services.
A client story will illustrate the importance and impact of our work. This is the story of Dereck Marks, his late wife Shannon, and their children:
Shortly before Shannon Marks died from a rare form of liver cancer in November, 2013, she told her husband Dereck to work with Juliane Belisle, Shannon’s counselor at CFC’s office in Florence, Kentucky. Dereck was already well-acquainted with Cancer Family Care’s services. “Shannon needed extra help and support after she got her diagnosis,” Dereck said. “I was responsible for bringing her to her sessions and waited for her. It helped to be able to utilize the services for myself.”
There were few patients with Shannon’s diagnosis, but Dereck said that CFC had resources that provided crucial information. “Knowing that others are going through a similar situation is something to help you get through.”
Dereck waited for six months after Shannon passed away before meeting with Juliane. After working full-time for Humana, he took a part-time job so he could be both mom and dad for his family. Shannon and Dereck had three young children ages 4, 7 and 8, and each had a daughter from a previous marriage.
“You realize you’re all these kids have, you’re the emotional leader of the family and that you have to be as strong as you possibly can,” he said.
Even working part-time, commuting to Florence from the family’s home in Hebron would have been logistically difficult for Dereck, but he worked with Juliane to come up with a flexible schedule.
“Juliane saw our sons in school once a month or once every couple of weeks to touch base with them. She even came out to the house to meet with 4-year-old McKenna.”
“That was another good thing,” he added, “Not having to worry about coming in to the Florence office.”
Juliane’s impact on the family continued after they concluded counseling sessions. The children continue to attend Camp Courage and this is where Dereck says he and his family feel a continuity with Juliane.
“Juliane still recognizes the kids when they come to camp and remembers each of their names. She has a smile on her face She picks up on their personalities and makes small talk with them in the first couple of minutes. I feel that even though she’s not involved heavily, there’s still that connection because Shannon told Juliane stories about our kids.”
The kids are doing well, with both boys actively involved in sports. Dereck’s parents live nearby, as do Shannon’s sister and her husband, and Dereck’s daughter. They were part of the care-giving circle during Shannon’s illness and continue to help, especially with the children. For Dereck, it was equally important to have CFC resources.
“Not closing yourself off to help is the most important thing,” he said. “You can try to be a super mom or dad all at once but at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to say I need some help getting this kid here, putting the other kid to bed.”
“CFC’s programs and staff were so important. The information and opportunities they provided made a big difference to Shannon and to all of us.”