Local cancer wellness center helps thousands free of charge

Published: May. 2, 2017 at 4:41 PM EDT
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Thousands of people around our region hear the words, "You have cancer" every year. The Victory Center is an organization that works to help people through the diagnosis. It provides everything from exercise and nutrition classes to support groups and massages.

Tonight is a big fundraiser for the center. It's a celebrity wait night.

13abc's Lissa Guyton is one of the servers. She met a survivor today who says she owes a lot to the center

Every year, thousands of cancer patients, survivors and their families come to The Victory Center. All of the services are free. Events like the celebrity wait night help cover the costs.

Adele Jasion has no family history of cancer, "I woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in my side." Not long after that, Adele was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei or PMP, "it's the type of cancer that starts with a tumor in your appendix. The tumor bursts out of the appendix and then it invades your peritoneal cavity and grows."

Adele was diagnosed in Toledo, but couldn't get treatment for her cancer here. She traveled to a specialist in Pittsburgh, where she underwent a grueling 12-hour invasive procedure, "During that surgery they removed the tumors,,burned some of the tumors off or scraped them off. While I was opened up, I was also given a heated chemo treatment."

That was followed by a lengthy recovery. She says the gravity of what she went through still hasn't fully sunk in, "It's surreal, you almost don't believe it's true."

The Victory Center helped Adele face the reality of her disease. Just days after her diagnosis and before that surgery, she came to the center. She says what she found here changed her world, "I am convinced my outcome is better because I had the support of The Victory Center."

Dianne Barndt heads up the cancer wellness center,"One of the best parts of my job is sitting at my desk and seeing someone before their treatment , support group or class and then seeing them walk by afterwards. You can see the difference. You can see that a weight has been lifted off their shoulders."

The center provides all those free services to men, women and adolescents with every kind of cancer. It's all paid for with private dollars, "We don't get any government money or health insurance reimbursements. Everything we do is by donations."

Those donations fund a support system that works with health care providers for a common goal, a goal that Adele has achieved,"My favorite words are no evidence of disease or NED, and I am happy to say that's where I am."

The Victory Center has an annual budget of a little more than $500,000. Fundraisers bring in about $150,000 a year. Tonight's event is expected to raise about $35,000.

Once again, everything offered at The Victory Center is free.

If you're interested in making a donation or if you'd like to sign up for the programs and services,we've posted a link.