Philadelphia, PA– Few people are more aware of the difficulties local cancer patients face each day than Greg Garber, the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. With Philly Runs Free and the Philly Love Run coming up in just a few short months, I asked Mr. Garber, who is also a Legacy of Hope board member, to shed some light on the issues cancer patients deal with, how these issues impact their treatment, and how the runners on March 31st will help Legacy of Hope provide cancer patients and their families with relief from the non-medical burdens associated with their journey.
The median household income in the area which Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center primarily serves is only $16,500 according to Mr. Garber. “Patients and families’ primary focus is not on dealing with a serious illness like cancer; its on feeding their families, keeping their utilities on, and just getting through their day-to-day.” While we can all appreciate the financial burden cancer patients may experience with regards to medications, treatments, and hospitalization, it can often be overlooked how the disease affects other aspects of a patient’s life. Garber points out that the “financial toxicity” of cancer can be just as bad as the chemo toxicity many patients experience, putting them at risk for not following up appropriately. “These are the gaps that Legacy of Hope has helped with in a dramatic fashion.”
So runners unfamiliar with the reach Legacy of Hope has over the cancer community can better understand where their contributions and sweat equity goes, Mr. Garber described how our organization helps. “Older patients are used to being the caregiver for their families. Legacy can come in and do a home repair,” Garber states. “They’ll pay a bill, bring some groceries, or pick up some Christmas presents for the kids.” The connection Legacy establishes with patients is ongoing, affirms Mr. Garber. “Once a family is connected with Legacy, they are connected. Legacy of Hope contacts the family, establishes a relationship, often goes to the home…this enables us to understand what the issues really are.”
When asked about the potential success of Philly Runs Free, Mr. Garber couldn’t contain his Philly pride. “This is who we are as Philly. We’re this gritty, engaged city that has community.” He said, “I inherently believe that people are good. If you give good people opportunity to do good things, that pays off in spades.”
Garber will be running March 31st with his wife, colleagues and friends, and he encourages everyone in the community to do the same. “You can run as an individual, you can run as a team. Most people can walk a 7K, but if they can’t they can sponsor someone who can.” He leaves us with few excuses to not become engaged in Philly Run Free and he stands with all of us at Legacy of Hope in saying we hope to see you at the race!