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A City United

Medicine is an imperfect science weighted with approximations and idealizations intertwined with textbook conditions. Similar to storms, weathering a cancer diagnosis often harbors an equivocal pattern of life altering scenarios. Behind the brick and mortar of countless homes across Philadelphia, innumerable cancer patients are faced with endless days of untenable situations because the devastating effects of cancer ripple far beyond the medicine. For some people, living with cancer results in subsequent and unexpected loss of income. This rapid reduction in resources has devastatingly positioned many patients to choose between purchasing groceries or preventing utility shut off. Forced financial decisions are even more demoralizing for some, typically leaving patients deciding between feeding their families or preventing eviction. This begs the question; how can individuals weather the unpredictability of a devastating illness that arrives in the form of a merciless storm?

In Philadelphia cancer patients can now look for the helpers, or in this case the Storm Chasers. Nonprofit organization Legacy of Hope is passionately and successfully addressing hunger in Philadelphia’s oncology population by creating a brand new Emergency Patient Support Network for cancer patients. This Emergency Patient Support Network was created through sustainable partnerships with Philadelphia’s major hospitals, a family run grocery store chain, and the Philadelphia Police Department; virtually eliminating all barriers between disadvantaged cancer patients, their families, and healthy food.

Assisting cancer patients’ experiencing hunger places Legacy of Hope in the eye of the storm. Rewards that accompany service minded efforts, all too often come at the expense of bearing direct witness to suffering. Accepting they cannot fulfill this mission without exposure to intense suffering only increases the desire of the Legacy Team to continually learn, refine, strengthen, and perfect this network. Their mission is simple and straightforward; “No family should lose their home or go without food because a loved one is fighting cancer”.

Knowing that many cancer patients and families across Philadelphia face immediate hunger, Legacy of Hope works to quickly identify these patients in need. Unlike current food programs, this rapid identification strategy allows Legacy of Hope to efficiently and effectively address the financial, logistical and health barriers causing food insecurity and provide relief to patients with lightning speed.

Without the relentless advocacy of the board and staff at Legacy of Hope, the successful development of the Emergency Patient Support Network would not have been possible. Now, through a multilateral partnership with Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC), the Philadelphia Police Department and Brown’s Super Stores (ShopRite/The Fresh Grocer), an endeavor that began in the final week of February 2020, where countless groceries were being organized and delivered from SKCC, has quickly evolved into so much more.

The evolution of this program currently enables Legacy of Hope to provide grocery deliveries, including fresh produce, to twenty-four families weekly throughout Philadelphia at no cost to the patient. Despite the extraordinary success of the Emergency Patient Support Network thus far, the team at Legacy of Hope harbors a large-scale vision to expand these urgent services for cancer patients and families far beyond Philadelphia’s city limits. The development of such an effective, efficient, and sustainable network demands a recipe of ingenuity, stubborn resolve, and authentic leadership; all of which exemplifies the very core of the Legacy Team and its partners.

Legacy of Hope’s relationship with oncology social workers from Philadelphia’s major hospitals is central to the operation of this network. The ability to quickly identify Philadelphia cancer patients facing the most distressing situations including but not limited to eviction and hunger, paves the way for Legacy of Hope to respond with unmatched speed.