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Columbus Cancer Clinic helps any little bit they can
Chuck Gehring, president and CEO of LifeCare Alliance, visits the Columbus Cancer Clinic wig room. Women living with cancer can select wigs, one of the many services offered by the clinic. The Columbus Cancer Clinic sought out LifeCare Alliance as a partner in 2004 and a year ago moved to West Mount Street from Clintonville.
It is the little things that make Chuck Gehring, president and CEO of LifeCare Alliance, happy.
“It’s something as small as a birthday cake,” Gehring said.
He told the story of a cancer patient - a woman whose children put off birthday parties while she battled her disease - who received a birthday cake from the food pantry of the Columbus Cancer Clinic.
“So often in a family it is the children who suffer when an adult is battling cancer,” Gehring said.
Gehring said, in a traditional family, one where both a man and woman are working, the income is cut in half in the face of traumatic illness. It becomes a decision between food and medications.
In this case, the woman wrote a note to Gehring, thanking him for the cake.
“The children were as tickled as if it were Christmas,” he said as he talked about the services that the clinic performs. “She said she had one big party for all her children. For her, a two-day-old birthday cake from a local grocery store made a big difference in her life.”
A lot of these little things can help a cancer patient from becoming homeless, a goal of the clinic.
He also talked about helping a man who lost his career after a stroke affected his mental capacity. While working in a fast food restaurant he was diagnosed with cancer.
“The man was getting back and forth to work on a bicycle, but during his treatment, his bicycle was stolen,” Gehring said. “A donor had adopted this man and for Christmas that year, purchased the man a new bicycle.”
Often times Gehring has seen patients lose their jobs and move in with family members. After treatment, they want to get back into their own residence, but are in a financial bind.
“The big thing is they can’t afford the first and last month rent,” he said.
Gehring talked with rental agencies to seek help in getting those payments so people, who are working at low-income jobs, can meet their rent.
The Columbus Cancer Clinic was founded in 1921 by Catherine “Carrie” Nelson Black. For years it had been located in Clintonville and was independent.
“By 2004, they wanted to partner with someone who could provide more services,” Gehring said.
The clinic chose LifeCare Alliance and not because it, too, was founded by Black in 1898. Back then, LifeCare Alliance started as the District Nurses Association. The merger came about in April 2005 and a year ago the clinic moved to the West Mound Street building occupied by LifeCare Alliance.
The Clinic still offers mammograms, and that service has increased now that it has acquired a portable mammography unit.
“When we talk about mobile mammography, people think of the million-dollar buses,” Gehring said. “But we have a unit that we take into a building. People feel more comfortable going for a mammogram in the church basement after services.”
Clientele has increased, especially with Westside and Southside residents, since the services are readily accessible.
“The bus stops in front of our building,” Gehring said, a Westside native who grew up within walking distance of where he now works.
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