In its role of caring for and counseling newly diagnosed cancer patients — as well as the afflicted no longer in remission and caregivers of cancer patients — the Wellness Community of Philadelphia has been recognized for its outreach and assistance.
As part of its ongoing mission to spread awareness about cancer-related programs and services, TWCP held its 10th annual "Evening in the Park," during this, its 15th anniversary year, at its operational headquarters in Fairmount Park.
Each year, "Evening in the Park" recognizes several exceptional people and presents them with appropriate awards. This year, TV journalist, noted author and breast cancer survivor Betty Rollin was honored with the Medal of Inspiration, while TWCP participant and volunteer Carol Fisher was given the Medal of Courage. Founding board member Jill Durovsik received the Ridgeland Award for her commitment to TWCP.
Rollin, who spoke at the TWCP gala in connection with her latest book, Here's the Bright Side (of Failure, Fear, Cancer, Divorce and Other Bum Raps), referred to it as "a culmination of the things I've learned because of the bright side of these awful things."
"Because of my own experience with cancer, I learned, in retrospect, that having cancer actually can have benefits that may range from extreme gratitude for the rest of one's life to paying more attention to the moment and what's important then.
"Cancer sharpens awareness in people so that they become more sensitive to other people's grief and, for some, it also builds a strong sense of self," Rollin said. "When you go through something like this, very often you come out the other end a different person, a changed person."
Finding the Beauty
She confided that she doesn't like to give advice because dealing with bad news is a very individual sort of thing. But she simply tries to encourage people to find what's positive in their experience, because "there is some beauty that does emerge."
Rollin, 72, who is Jewish, a native New Yorker and a former correspondent for NBC News, who called TWCP a "very impressive group of dedicated people," has written seven books, including First, You Cry, a moving story about her breast cancer and mastectomy. Last Wish deals with the suicide of her terminally ill mother.
The Medal of Courage given to Carol Fisher, 60, is awarded each year to a TWCP participant who embodies the spirit of hope in the face of cancer. After being diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in 1993, Fisher said, she was given a 15 percent to 25 percent chance of survival. She came to TWCP for the first time in 1994 and has been associated with the organization ever since.