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Support and Survivorship: Vidant program gives cancer patients an opportunity for fun

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Charlotte Forjoe, a breast cancer patient, looks at artwork at Greenville Museum of Art on Jan. 24, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Janet Storm and Molly Mathis
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Cancer patients often are forced to deal with a lot of stress — from receiving their initial diagnosis to undergoing treatment and dealing with the emotional aftermath as survivors.

So participating in activities that take their minds off cancer can be a welcome relief. And Vidant Cancer Care’s Support and Survivorship program offers them an opportunity to do just that.

A variety of community-driven activities take patients out of the hospital setting and allow them to do something fun, according to Brian Wudkwych, communications specialist with Vidant Health.

The activities are free and open to all cancer patients, as well as their family and friends, he said.

In the past several months, the program has offered an animal therapy session with mini ponies at Rocking Horse Ranch, a trip to Simply Natural Creamery, a fall gardening session, an excursion on a fishing charter and classes on creating juice and smoothies, Wudkwych said.

On Thursday, the program offered participants a picture-perfect afternoon.

Entitled ”Admiration of the Arts,” the event partnered Vidant with the Greenville Museum of Art to offer an opportunity to take a curator-led tour of the Postmodern Native: Contemporary Lumbee Art exhibition.

About 20 people attended, including cancer patients Charlotte Forjoe and Hope Richardson.

“I really have enjoyed it,” Forjoe said. “I recently had a chance to visit a large museum in Washington, D.C., and this really lets me know that there are things that are going on in the city of Greenville that are available that I had not yet taken the opportunity to see. It has really been nice.”

Richardson echoed Forjoe’s sentiments.

“It been a beautiful experience for me as well,” she said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, but I used to bring my son here on occasion and let him experience different things — activities here and different artists.

“It’s good to just look around and see all the different aspects of paintings,” Richardson said. “You see different things in paintings and experience different feelings and emotions through paintings.”

Both woman also are involved in art classes at Vidant, which they said helps them cope with different things they are going through.

“It’s like a support system,” Richardson said. “When we’re there together, we’re family. And we’re there, we’re kind of all doing our own different types of art but we’re family and it gives us time to be together and time to chat and just love on each other and express ourselves through our art.”

Forjoe, who has breast cancer, said her diagnosis was a surprise.

“I was shocked when I found out I had cancer,” she said, noting that the support she has found at Vidant has made a difference in dealing with the disease.

“Even though you have family, sometimes you are not able to share all the things you are going through,” Forjoe said. “(The Vidant program) kind of gives us a place where we can come together and share — cry, laugh, and learn how to take better care of ourselves.”

Richardson said she found out she had thoracic cancer after having heart surgery. At the time she received the news, her stepmother and mother recently had passed away.

“There were a lot of things I was going through at the time, but my faith in God was the thing that really kept me going, because I trust in him,” she said.

“I’m a positive person and I am a fighter,” Richardson said. “My name represents who I am — which is Hope — and I have hope for everyone else as well.”

Richardson said that it is important to stay positive, because stressing and getting sad can make a cancer diagnosis harder to bear.

Forjoe agreed, saying that is another reason the programs at Vidant are so important.

“They offer a lot of things that help you heal,” she said. “It makes a big difference.” 

Support and Survivorship will offer a nutrition program on Feb. 25 called “Kicking Cancer with Cuisine.” Call toll free to register or for more information 1-855-MYVIDANT (1-855-698-4326).

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