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Two local cancer survivors think more needs to be offered to those fighting the disease

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Although the Mahoning Valley has access to cancer care, two local survivors believe there is a step missing between caring for the body, and caring for the mind and the spirit.

Like many cancer survivors, the road to recovery for Donna Detwiler and Anna Aey hasn't been an easy journey.

"When you are first newly diagnosed, and you're scared, and you don't know where to turn, you need somewhere local to go to other than your doctors to get the support," said Aey.

The closest place to help fill Detwiler and Aey's unmet needs was the Gathering Place, near Cleveland.

The Gathering Place offers free programs that help address the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of those battling cancer. The non-profit also offers services to family and friends of those battling cancer.

"I felt like if I was doing fairly well and it was hard for me to make the drive up there what about patients that aren't doing very well, that maybe have a lot of problems with fatigue and just are not feeling well emotionally," questioned Detwiler. "That would be such a hard drive for them to make."

That's why Detwiler and Aey dream of building a place similar to the Gathering Place in the Valley. They would call it the Yellow Brick Place.

"We have a lot of good healing therapies in this area but they are kind of here, there and everywhere," said Detwiler. "We're trying to centralize them for those cancer patients and their family members."

The dream of Yellow Brick Place is to one day offer a wide-variety of services, similar to those offered at the Gathering Place.

Those include activities that connect the body and the mind. Such as gentle movement exercises, healthy cooking classes, and gardening. The Gathering Place also offers support groups of all-kinds and an on-site medical librarian to help survivors and their families research any questions.

"What we do is try to help people develop tools to cope effectively with those stressors so it gives them the best chance of recovery," said founder of the Gathering Place Eileen Saffran.

Like, the Gathering Place, the Yellow Brick Place is a non-profit and will only become a reality with the support of donors. So far, they've raised about $80,000 and still have a long road ahead of them.

"There is nothing like walking through the doors of a place where everyone truly understands what you are going through you don't have to say a thing," expressed Aey.

For more information on the efforts behind the Yellow Brick Place, visit http://www.yellowbrickplace.org/

For more information on the Gathering Place, visit http://www.touchedbycancer.org/




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