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Helen’s Room provides resources, support for cancer patients

Facing the reality of a cancer diagnosis is difficult even in the best of times. Being forced to deal with the loss of self-esteem associated with changing body image is even more challenging during an economic down turn.

That’s where Helen’s Room comes in.

“I wanted to be in an area to serve patients that needed our services,” said Monica Kahn, founder of Helen’s Room, a resource center for cancer patients at Good Samaritan Hospital. “We’ve created a place where patients can talk and feel safe, but they can also find resources to help with self-esteem and body image concerns that are absolutely free.”

Those resources — hats, scarves, wigs, breast prostheses, mastectomy bras and more — are lifelines for the patients who visit Helen’s Room.

Kahn’s words of encouragement come from a place of knowledge. She didn’t personally experience cancer, but her lifelong friend Helen Rindfleisch died from lung cancer in 1992. Kahn experienced cancer through the eyes of her friend, providing the comfort and support Helen needed during the two years she fought her battle with cancer.

After Helen’s death, Kahn wanted to reach out to others who didn’t have support and who couldn’t afford the accoutrements needed through cancer treatment. Helen’s Room provides confidential consultations with trained volunteers.

Rosemary Boston, manager of cancer services at Good Samaritan, said Helen’s Room provides an uplifting experience for those who visit it and receive services there. It has been a great addition to the Oncology Services Program. Services in Helen’s Room are provided free of charge to any cancer patient. We have already provided service to several patients from as far away as Belize!

“Our patients come to Helen’s Room concerned because they have an illness,” said Boston. “When they leave, they have hope. Spending time with Monica alters their outlook. They get to talk to someone who understands them and offers them tangible support.”

“It doesn’t matter how much or how little money you have, losing your hair is devastating” said Kahn “They need to be able to cry about that loss. For women, their hair is their identity, their beauty. For them to walk away with a wig and a scarf, it does wonders for their self-esteem.”

Helen’s Room is open by appointment only. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 213-977-2429.

For a referral to a board-certified oncologist at Good Samaritan Hospital call 1 (800) GS-CARES.

 

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