A Welcoming Place
SKCC Support and Welcome Center Will Call Honickman Center Its Home
The journey that follows a diagnosis of cancer can be difficult—for both the patient and their loved ones. The programs and services that will be offered under one roof at the Honickman Center is designed to make that journey easier.
The 15th floor of the Honickman Center will be the new home of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Support and Welcome Center, as well as a center dedicated to post-surgical products, hair loss, and addressing appearance-related concerns throughout cancer care.
“This is very exciting for us. Patients will now have everything in one place—they can just go between floors for their clinical treatments and their support services,” says Lisa Capparella, LCSW, OSW-C, manager of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Support and Welcome Center, currently located at 914 Chestnut Street. “Care is going to be a lot more seamless for the patients.”
Capparella, who leads the patient, family, and community programs at SKCC, explains that often patients have to “spaghetti” their way around. That is, go to several different places on campus for medical treatment and educational and support services. At Honickman, everything they need will be in one beautiful facility.
The Cancer Support and Welcome Center offers a myriad of programs, including mind-body classes, fitness, meditation, and stress reduction programs; knitting and crochet circles for relaxation; educational sessions; and support groups, just to name a few. The 15th floor will feature an open rooftop, which lends itself to programs such as yoga classes and networking events, including the “buddy” program that pairs those currently on their cancer journey with those who have completed treatment.
“It is also a place to find answers to important questions patients and caregivers might have, such as: What might I expect from hormonal treatment? What types of clinical trials are available? What side effects might I have and what can I do to minimize any of those side effects?” explains Capparella.
The Center also hosts staff programs to help the clinical and ancillary caregivers learn how to better provide compassionate care on a daily basis, and welcomes patients seeking solutions to image-related concerns. The staff at the Center is specifically trained in the challenges cancer presents, such as skin changes, hair loss, and other appearance-related issues.
“If a patient is losing their hair and need a wig… if they need breast products or breast forms… or maybe they want to get massage therapy or acupuncture... there’s going to be comprehensive programs and services all in one building,” she says. “It is a space that’s very welcoming, and not clinically oriented, so it feels more like a home environment.”
Capparella says services that focus on image-related issues is unique to the area, and is open to anyone currently receiving cancer treatment no matter where they receive their care.
While some services at the Center are provided free of charge, others are billed to insurance providers or covered in part by programs funded by donors.
“The Welcome Center and image-related services are only possible because of generous philanthropic support,” Capparella says. “Philanthropic support, whether it be from an individual or a corporate organization, is really important to our programs, as we are a nonprofit organization. I am extremely grateful to those who have supported—and continue to support—the Honickman Center and Welcome and Support Center.”
In addition to financial support, the Welcome Center is made up of those who volunteer their time to teach and run classes.
“For example, some of our yoga instructors might donate their time as opposed to being paid,” she says. “It’s a way for our community to get involved.” Capparella invites anyone wishing to volunteer to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She estimates that the facility serves between 800 and 1,000 patients and providers each month.
“The success and value of the programs are evident from the information and testimonials collected in surveys conducted by the Center,” she says, noting that some of the comments include: “I feel connected to others… I feel a sense of hope… I was able to disconnect from what’s been going on in my life and get some respite.”
“Sometimes when someone is diagnosed with a serious illness they’re not aware of the resources available to them,” Capparella says. “I encourage folks to step into the Welcome Center for a tour. “Sometimes people are afraid to ask for help, but that’s exactly what this center is intended for—to provide support that people don’t even know that they need, but could be useful to them.”