Cancer patients can’t get chemotherapy at the Erie Cancer Wellness Center. It doesn’t offer radiation or immunotherapy treatments, either.
But the center, which is scheduled to open Monday at 2212 W. 15th St., will provide many nonmedical services — including yoga, gentle massage and support groups — that help cancer patients recover from their illness and treatments.
“We have made tremendous progress in the way we treat cancer but we haven’t always focused on how those treatments impact a patient’s well-being,” said Dr. Jan Rothman, a medical oncologist with the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Erie. “Now we realize there are a number of complementary services that can benefit the patient.”
As an independent nonprofit organization, the Cancer Wellness Center offers its services at no cost to any cancer patient in the area. Patients can either contact the center on their own or be referred by their oncologist or treatment center, said Sarah Humphrey, the Cancer Wellness Center’s executive director.
Humphrey started a wellness program at the RCC in 2015 that remained in place until the center closed in 2019 when UPMC Hamot and Saint Vincent Hospital opened their own cancer centers.
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“We haven’t had many of these services since the Regional Cancer Center closed. There is a real need,” Humphrey said. “We want to be an extension of the phenomenal care cancer patients receive in our area.”
As Humphrey spoke in early September, construction workers were busy renovating the office, which used to house the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School’s Erie location. Global supply chain issues forced Humphrey to delay the center’s opening by a few weeks but she said she was excited to begin offering services.
- Gentle and restorative yoga
- Chair yoga
- Gentle and healing massage
- Guided imagery and relaxation
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Health cooking and nutrition classes
- Support groups for specific cancers
- Guest lecturers
“We will also offer a wig salon and there will be no cost for the wigs,” Humphrey said.
The center has three full-time employees and an annual budget of $450,000. Income comes from community donations and grants.
Offering these services for free is vital because a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming physically, emotionally, and financially, Rothman said.
“A patient might have limited resources to pay for counseling or other services like that,” Rothman said. “The important thing is that we want to be proactive and identify the patients who would benefit and be receptive to this.”
Cancer Wellness Center
2212 W. 15th St.
Visit eriecancerwellness.org or call 814-651-0920.