Alfredo Ochoa, a member of the Indiana Junior Classical League, recently spearheaded a Comfort Kit collection drive with the support of other local high school members.

Comfort Kits consist of comforting and essential items such as lip balm, socks, lotion, and coloring supplies that are delivered to cancer patients during chemotherapy infusion, giving CSCSCI clinical staff an opportunity to share information about free counseling and other programs and resources available at Cancer Support Community.

We cannot thank Alfredo and the IJCL enough for not only collecting donations, but also assembling the Comfort Kits!

About Comfort Kits

Learn about what items go into a Comfort Kit and how you can help create them, here:

About IJCL:

Composed of junior high and high school students, the Indiana Junior Classical League is a member of the National Junior Classical League, which focuses on encouraging an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, while giving students an understanding of the debt their culture owes to that classical antiquity.

Learn more about the IJCL here:

Cancer Support Community of South Central Indiana recently received a generous $1,000 donation from the Bloomington Sunrise Rotary, a self-described group of fun, vibrant and young minded individuals, who are interested in learning new things and changing our community & the world, through service.

CSCSCI’s mission to uplift and strengthen people impacted by cancer by providing support, fostering compassionate communities, and breaking down barriers to care resonated deeply with members of the Sunrise Rotary.

Their gracious gift will allow CSCSCI to provide 10 wig kits to those who have been affected by hair loss from chemotherapy or radiation. These kits include a wig, wig stand, cleaning and care products, and other lotions and caps – all free of charge!

Interested in learning more about the Sunrise Rotary visit:

On March 22, Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana welcomed 15 attendees of all ages to their West Third Street campus for their first Family Night, an evening chock full of arts and crafts, yoga and story time.

The event kicked off with a make-your-own Easter egg ornament session, then participants learned relaxing yoga poses and how to find their inner peace from Priscilla Borges, a local yoga instructor. The evening concluded with story time with Mrs. Bloomington, who read a Dr. Seuss book to the children in attendance.

This event was one of the first Family Nights since the COVID-19 pandemic; Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana staff are excited to host additional events like these, which bring together people from across Bloomington and provide memorable activities for the whole family.

Alexis Bergman has been an integral part of the Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana since August 2023, when she came onboard as a clinical social work intern, while working toward her Masters of Social Work at Indiana University Bloomington.

Alexis has offered support to those in our cancer community as an individual and group clinician; she’s also worked diligently toward increasing community collaborations. She has also worked to advocate for expanded biomarker testing services for all Hoosiers.

Alexis says her involvement at CSCSCI has reinforced her belief in the power of connection and community, and she’s loved being a part of the Bloomington office. Alexis was the driving force behind the creation of the new CSCSCI Book Club program. When she was asked to create a new program, Alexis considered the existing programs and saw an opportunity when she reflected on her own love for reading and sharing insights with others.

Book clubs offer not only the stress reduction benefits for the individual reading, but also the social support of gathering with friends. Having been a part of more than five unique book clubs, Alexis points out that whether you have read the chosen book three times, half way or not at all, gathering to discuss and listen to others personal insights can be beneficial.

To expand the reach and impact of the program, Alexis reached out to local author and essayist Scott Russell Sanders. Mr. Sanders graciously accepted the invitation to participate, citing his own experiences supporting loved ones with cancer and other chronic illnesses as an encouragement to attend. Sanders, a long-time Bloomington resident, is Professor Emeritus at IU and author of more than 20 books.

Additional thanks to the Outreach Services department of Monroe County Public Library for assisting in the coordination of books for the inaugural Book Club program.

Donations are the critical component behind Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana’s ability to provide support services, as well as to offer educational, wellness and social programs for FREE to patients, survivors, family, friends, and caregivers. In 2023, we saw such incredible support that we were able to grow program participation by 151% to reach 2,999 Hoosiers in south central Indiana.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by an incredible community that is deeply dedicated to caring for those in our midst who are facing cancer – and their loved ones. Thanks to generous donors like you, we raised over $700,000 and were able to provide 6 new support groups, 7 new programs, and 9 new classes.

We are honored to be in a position to provide these services and supports, and would like to thank each and every one of our donors and volunteers for contributing to these successes in 2023!

A myriad of studies and surveys have shown that massages are beneficial for reducing muscle tension, improving circulation and increasing flexibility in cancer patients. Massage has been one of the most-requested programs at Cancer Support Center of South Central Indiana, as well – and until now, we have not had the opportunity to offer it.

Thanks to a grant from Smithville Charitable Foundation, Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana will be able to offer 240 free massages in 2024 to cancer patients or caregivers! Massages will be given by Elise Frost, a movement educator and licensed massage therapist with over 15 years’ experience teaching movement practices; she also has five years as a licensed bodyworker. Elise recently completed an oncology massage therapy training and certification program, and is passionate about helping cancer patients through their journey.

Elise believes that touch is powerful medicine and strives to use her knowledge and skills to humanize health care practices and provide inclusive opportunities for people to experience the positive impact of massage therapy. She is excited to be joining the team at Cancer Support Community as an ally in providing excellent care and resources to cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers.

Interested in scheduling a massage? Call 812-929-0658 or email for a brief intake and to make a massage appointment.

Dear Friends,

I have had the great honor to serve Cancer Support Community Indiana as your President & CEO since July of 2023. I would like to thank our Board of Trustees, CSC staff and all of you for welcoming me with open arms, minds and hearts as I provide leadership to this AMAZING organization.

As many of you may know, I identify as a long-time caregiver. My father lost his courageous battle to prostate cancer that metastasized to his bones and brain in 2003. My mother is a winning warrior conquering breast cancer in 2006 and thyroid cancer in 2015. And, my husband of 30 years fought hard, but lost his battle with squamous cell carcinoma after only four months in 2022. Facing cancer has been a part of my personal story. Now, in my role as your President & CEO, I feel blessed and driven to make it a part of my daily mission.

We were busy over these past six months, and many of you joined us, for the following events: Laughing Matters with Jeff Foxworthy; Hoosiers Outrun Cancer in Bloomington; Jay Archer Memorial Golf Shamble; Survivor’s Summit at the Indianapolis Colts Headquarters; The Comedy Attic 15th Anniversary with Pete Holmes in Bloomington! We are also proud of the host of programs and services we offer to assist Hoosiers on their cancer journey. In fact, as one of forty CSC Network Affiliates, CSC Indiana is a global leader in the following areas:

We have already started our Strategic Planning process so that we can identify our strengths, document our gaps, receive feedback from you on what you need from our organization, and create a working action plan for implementation over the next 3 years.

My biggest goal for 2024 is for YOU to help me solve our dilemma of being “the best kept secret in Indiana.” We don’t want to be a secret! Cancer is a challenge that no one should face alone. That is why Cancer Support Community Indiana is committed to enhancing the quality of life for all Hoosiers affected by cancer – patients, survivors, caregivers, and loved ones.

We are truly grateful to everyone who continues to strengthen Cancer Support Community Indiana through gifts of your time, talents and resources. Your generosity allows us to continue offering FREE services to ANY Hoosier going through a cancer journey.

Remember, Community is Stronger Than Cancer.

With a grateful heart,

Dr. Terry Whitt Bailey

Dana has been one of CSC’s biggest advocates since coming to Bloomington. She has led the charge creating the Strength in Community luncheon, volunteering on the Hoosiers Outrun Cancer Committee and the South Central Indiana Advisory Council. She also volunteers regularly for programs, and is an advocate for CSC as a part of her everyday life. She introduces cancer patients to CSC by inviting them to meet with her in the office, providing a tour, and sharing information about the free programs available.

Dana was one of the founding members of CSC’s Advisory Council, and later stepped up and joined the Hoosiers Outrun Cancer committee. She wanted to spearhead increasing the involvement of teams especially within educational institutions or schools. She put a great deal of effort into getting HOC information to all of the local schools, and really supported each school to set up their team page and select a team captain. As a result of her efforts, school team participation really increased, especially within the Kelley School of Business.

When CSC started a new fundraising event “Strength in Community Luncheon”, Dana was the first person to commit to being a table captain for this amazing event in the very first year. She also helped to recruit other table captains, and encouraged folks to donate to CSC through a challenge gift.

“Dana consistently brings in new participants to CSC, holding her own Newcomer Meetings with them. They feel safe beginning that connection with a friend, and pursuing programming after Dana’s warm hand-off. In any visit and any meeting, she also makes sure to thank staff for their work. And we’d like to thank her, with this award.”

~Brynn Parkinson,

Clinical Program Manager

This year at Hoosiers Outrun Cancer, Rick McMullen shared his cancer experience and gratitude for the support he received from Cancer Support Community with event attendees. Here's what he had to say about his cancer journey.

Rick (65) has been with his partner in life Mary for over 40 years. Rick and Mary live in Bloomington, where they raised 3 sons together, and lost one at age 24. They started a grant program in his honor to support students who use photography to further their research interests. 

Recently, Rick retired from Indiana University as a research scientist. Through his career, Rick used advanced computing to solve problems in the physical and life sciences through modeling and simulation. Shortly after retiring, Rick was diagnosed with bladder cancer (August 2021). At that time, Cancer Support Community hadn't yet opened their doors in the Bloomington office.

Like many other forms of cancer, bladder cancer is treatable if discovered early enough. If the signs are ignored or misdiagnosed, it can lead to loss of your bladder or becoming metastatic and difficult to treat. Overall, bladder cancer has a five year survival rate of 77% and is the 13th most frequent cause of new cancer cases in the U.S.)

"A cancer diagnosis is a life changing thing. Although competent medical care is critical to survival, there are other needs a person with cancer has."

 Rick wasn’t sure where to turn until nearly a year after his diagnosis he stumbled upon Cancer Support Community while researching bladder cancer resources online. When he noticed that there was emotional and financial support for cancer patients he was immediately hooked. To his surprise, Cancer Support Community had just recently opened a new office in Bloomington, IN. 

“We went by the 3rd Street office and found a treasure: welcoming professional staff, a great set of services for cancer patients.” 

After being diagnosed, Rick was searching for someone to talk to who truly understood the cancer patient experience. He was comforted by the community filled with survivors courageous enough to share their knowledge and support. 

The best part about the Cancer Support Community for Rick is being surrounded by people who have similar concerns and understand the sensitivity behind everyone’s story.  

“Individual professional counseling that CSC provided free was very important to me at that moment in time, making it possible for me to sort out how to go forward.”

Fortunately, Rick had surgery to remove his tumor and is in remission, but is still struggling with thoughts and worries of reoccurrence. While everyone has their own preferences for receiving help or support, CSC offers a wide variety of counseling, nutrition, exercise, education, and social classes to provide hope, strength, and comfort families and individuals facing cancer.  

“What CSC has given me has been so important to me, Mary, and the rest of our family that I would love to find a way to give back to CSC not just in dollars, but in time and talent as well.” 

Join Rick and Mary by making a gift before year's end to provide hope, strength and comfort to other families in South Central Indiana.

Written by Amy Marks

My cancer journey began when my husband noticed small nodules protruding from my neck. They felt like hard, tiny peas. The area would swell up to golf ball size and recede. Cancer didn’t cross our minds. No one on either side of my family as far back as I know had cancer. We decided to go to our wonderful family doctor to find out if the nodules were normal, infected, or what. After the doctor felt my neck, the look on his face was a mixture of compassion and complete sickness. He asked a series of questions and referred me to a surgeon to get a biopsy to be evaluated. 

This surgeon was convinced it was not cancer. “Cancer doesn’t act like this.” “They’re merely reactive lymph nodes.” He proceeded to send me on a wild goose chase of different doctors and different tests. He insisted that I needed antibiotics. This went on for a few months and my husband and I decided to go back to our family doctor. 

The area on my neck was swollen again, this time to 6 cm in diameter. We were referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. He conducted an exam and immediately ordered a PET scan. The results showed up like a yellow highlighter marker — cancer detected. This doctor insisted on removing the lymph nodes. Thankfully, he was trained to be mindful of where the nodes were situated and knew how to carefully move the nerve so I wouldn’t lose the use of my arm. 

He sent the specimen to the lab. When sent it to another lab, and another. I’m surprised there was any tissue left by the time it got to its final destination: the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Ten days later, the doctor called me at home. He said that I had waited long enough. It was confirmed to be Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma (NOS). 

He led us to my incredible oncologist. She recommended a second opinion which took us to the Simon Cancer Center. That was a surreal experience. People were in different stages of different types of cancer. I wandered up to the office keeping my vision in a tunnel.

Why am I here? Is this me?

The doctors there confirmed my diagnosis. Although it’s relatively rare, I’m grateful to say there was a protocol for that type of cancer. I had to have an internal port surgically inserted. The drugs used for my type of cancer were too harsh for my veins to tolerate. 

The first day of chemo was a thirteen-hour marathon. I was allergic to many of the solutions used to convey the medication. After the first solution was started, my son and my nurse sat forward extremely concerned and asked if I was alright. Apparently, my face had turned beet red. The journey to correct that course began. I was put on so much Benadryl, and a ton of steroids to combat the allergies, but my doctor said that we needed to proceed. We had to test out and get through each of the meds in the series. The nurses were amazing—staying after their shift to get me through. I was a mess—so frustrated, so sick, and so tired. That evening my husband took me home. 

We had to organize and set alarms for all the steroids and the medication for nausea, not to mention my own regular medication. In total, I had 14 alarms set. I was allergic to a couple of the anti-nausea meds and had to make phone calls in the middle of the night and take Benedryl to combat those. The next morning, I had projectile vomiting. My husband lovingly cleaned that up and we were back to round two of three the next morning. I had 6 rounds of chemo, 3 days of infusions, every 21 days. Also, there was Neulasta administered by securing the medical device to my arm. This was to boost my white blood cells. 

The oncologist and the nurses were the best. They absolutely have a calling on their lives. They advocated for me, loved my family, made us laugh, and really listened to me when I was clearly not doing well. 

I have to say how grateful I am for my husband and my two sons. We all broke into our roles. My husband was everything: in addition to going to his job he was my medical note taker, chauffeur, therapist, medical assistant, chef, etc. Our older son was the researcher. He gathered information and shared my progress with our family and friends. Our younger son was my emotional support human. He came home to take care of me. He made grilled cheese sandwiches for me and gave my husband the peace of mind to leave me while he went to work. 

My friends called, brought food, and let me vent. They all held my hand at chemo and beyond. My job was to simply get better. My hair fell out. I progressively got sicker. My daily goal was to get to the bathroom and back into bed. I would gradually get better only to have to repeat the process of chemotherapy. The doctor got my meds situated and things became somewhat smoother. I would sob on my husband’s shoulder before each new round. “I don’t want to do this anymore.” He would gently persuade me and off we’d go back to chemo with my special blanket made by a kind coworker and my bag of supplies to entertain me for the six-hour period of infusion. I usually slept. Gradually, we weathered each session. 

I would sometimes visit the cancer center that was situated behind the old Bloomington Hospital (Olcott Center - before CSC was in town). I went to the head wrapping class. I’m not a girly girl and not very fussy, so learning to wear a scarf with my chemo cap was not only comfortable, it was helpful with my dignity. I was amazed and deeply touched by the support of the staff and the lovely social worker. 

Slowly, I kicked cancer’s butt. I rang that bell. The day the doctor told me that “there is no evidence of disease” was strange. I had fully believed that this would kill me. I had the notion that cancer always equaled and ended in death. Through my faith, I had a peace about that. But, I had to wrap my mind around the prospect of living past cancer. Therefore, I had to begin the trek of healing, believing in a future, increasing my activities, growing my hair back. I still have to get CT scans (scan-xiety is real!) and visit with my oncologist, but we’re in a good place now. I still get nervous, but I know that there’s a whole community that selflessly supported me. 

My hobby is creating greeting cards. Monthly I create and donate cards to be tucked into the comfort kits that CSC distributes to new cancer patients. I do this as a quiet, loving gesture to brighten a day and let the patients know that they are thought of. I enclose a poem (not my own) that struck my core. 

Remember that you are more than skin and bones. You are a thousand stories of before. One thousand stories of potential. One thousand stories you’ve yet to see and know and feel and breathe. There’s more to come and it’s something beautiful. ~Victoria Erickson

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