Local cancer charity gets $30,000 to expand services

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Women helping women. 

After winning a $30,000 national grant, from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society is hoping to help women in all corners of southern Colorado.  

The cancer society was awarded the grant last week. 

This money creates a program to arm southern Colorado women battling cancer with resources and personal connections with survivors who know what they’re going through.  

For more than 10 years the cancer society has supported women financially and now they’re able to support them emotionally as well.  

Especially where there’s a gap in care in rural areas of southern Colorado.  

“Those patients have a really hard time coming all the way back up to make a support group meeting, that’s Wednesday at 11:30 in the morning. So this program is a peer-to-peer mentoring program. A survivor who has already gone through this cancer, can team up with a newly diagnosed patient and help her, answer some questions for her, help her through treatment and encourage her,” said Susan DiNapoli-Guyton Executive Director of the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society. 

One word changed everything for Laurie Cardin: Cancer. In September she will be five years cancer free.

“It just takes everything out of you, in that moment,” said Laurie Cardin. “The hardest part is telling my 12-year-old, that you have cancer and trying to keep it to where they don’t see you panic. You are so vulnerable at the beginning of the diagnosis.” 

A diagnosis that can take away our loved ones. Susan DiNapoli-Guyton started the sue DiNapoli ovarian cancer society in honor of her mom.  

“After my mom passed away from 2005 during that time, there were no doctors in cos to treat her she did have to go to Denver for treatment,” said DiNapoli-Guyton. “She really went through this alone, and to be able to bring this program to Penrose hospital. I know that my mother would be thrilled that nobody would have to fight this alone again.”

They know this new peer-to-peer program will save lives.  

“There is research that shows that people that have a good support group , whether it be supportive family, friends, other cancer patients, have better outcomes,” said Dr. Dirk Pikaart a GYN oncologist at Penrose Health Services.  

They believe it works before the mentor are experts: survivors. 

“Knowing that you can pick up the phone.  and call someone and ask a question about this treatment that treatment. Why is body doing this? Why am I feeling this way? Having somebody in your corner makes a huge difference in your fight,” Cardin said.  

The $30,000-grant from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance is paying for Laurie to now organize the program.  

“You are empowering newly diagnosed gynecological cancer patients to be able to walk through their fear with someone who’s been through it,” said Cardin. 

Dr. Dirk Pikaart is the only Gynecological Oncologist for southern Colorado. He serves patients from Colorado Springs to Durango. 

Therefore many cancer patients come up to the Springs to get treatment and when they return home they are isolated and sometimes alone.  

“I think this will fill a gap,” said Dr. Pikaart.  

“Penrose, Pueblo, Canon City there is no support there; they have to come here. I am so excited because they are going to have that support at home,” said Cardin.  

Laurie knows she will also heal from helping others.  

“My “why” is the survivor.  My “why” is that woman who doesn’t have to be alone, it’s not her fault,” said Cardin.  

Click here to learn more about the Woman to Woman program.

Contact The Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society to pay it forward as a survivor.  

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