Faith in action: Jewish Family Service gives aid to breast cancer patients


[media-credit name=”Margie Torres” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
Friends and family gather for the Race for the Cure to support breast cancer survivors in their trials.
Most people don’t have a hard time doing the dishes or making lunch, but for breast cancer patients undergoing treatment, it can seem an impossible task.

A new program of Jewish Family Service, a non-profit organization in Salt Lake, is seeking to make things a little easier for breast cancer patients. And they’re seeking volunteers to make this happen.

The LiveWell program began this spring after Jewish Family Service secured funding to expand their services to reach breast cancer patients. In Utah County, a similar program called Road to Recovery helps cancer patients get to and from appointments.

Assistance for breast cancer patients is necessary because wearying treatments often restrain them from participating in day-to-day activities.

The greatest need, and what most LiveWell volunteers will do, is to provide transportation for patients to and from appointments, though many other potential volunteer options are pending.

To name a few — patients need help around the house and yard; they need help getting groceries; and they will need help shoveling snow when it arrives.

“Everyday tasks are some of the hardest tasks… even just going to get the mail or taking the trash out,” said Bridgette Matich, a breast cancer survivor from Key West, Fla.

Matich was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 21. It was usually her friends who drove her to and from chemo and radiation appointments, as the rest of her family worked during the day. Her friends also made trips to the pharmacy and then stayed around to cook meals.

Volunteers are not expected to take patients to every treatment or around town on every errand; rather, they are filling in the holes when others are not available. Even a few hours of service now and again is helpful, according to Rebecca Turkanis, project coordinator of LiveWell.

“These women are really low on energy, and these little things around the house tend to get put on the back burner when these women are facing their treatments,” Turkanis said.

Clients in need of LiveWell’s services are being sought after in addition to volunteers. As the program continues to get established, more opportunities are opening up.

Image Reborn Foundation is partnering with LiveWell to organize retreats for breast cancer patients at their location in Park City. This provides women some relaxing time to bond with other women while having a nice getaway.

Collaborating with other foundations isn’t the only way Jewish Family Service is uniting the community. The non-profit organization reaches out to people in Summit, Wasatch and Salt Lake counties, regardless of their religious beliefs.

According to Ellen Silver, executive director of Jewish Family Service, this belief stems from the Hebrew phrase “Tikkun Olam,” meaning, “repair the world.”

“It means that we’re just not here for ourselves, but we’re here for everyone. As a Jewish Agency, that’s one of the principles that everything we do is based on, so it is important for us to provide these services to the entire community,” Silver said.

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