Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the Bloomington Health Foundation. Bloom has republished it here in its entirety, with minor edits for style.

Beginning August 3, local oncology patients and their families will have increased access to a broad range of psychosocial services. Bloomington Health Foundation, Cancer Support Community Central Indiana, and IU Health South Central Region are coordinating efforts to provide free virtual programming for those impacted by cancer in Monroe County and surrounding communities.

The Central Indiana affiliate of the national organization Cancer Support Community will provide licensed and credentialed programming building upon 25 years of experience of offering services in Central Indiana. President and CEO Eric Richards says that these services are more crucial than ever due to the impact of COVID-19.

“Social isolation is challenging enough for so many after a diagnosis and the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this concern,” says Richards. “That is why it is especially exciting to be partnering with the Bloomington Health Foundation and IU Health Bloomington Hospital to provide unique and critical virtual support services to those who need it from the comfort of their homes and all completely free of charge.”

Those seeking services can self-refer or receive referrals from IU Health physicians and staff. Terri Acton, IU Health Olcott Center Nurse Manager and Clinical Educator, says the collaboration will allow the IU Health Olcott Center Nurse Navigators to reach an increased number of cancer patients in the community. Acton says, “Transferring the non-clinical support services to Cancer Support Community will allow cancer patients across the entire South-Central Region the opportunity to access an expanded menu of resources and services.”

Funding for the programming will be provided by the Bloomington Health Foundation, in part from their annual 5k fundraiser Hoosiers Outrun Cancer. The Foundation recently shared that due to COVID-19, the 21st running of the race on September 26 would be held virtually. Over the past 20 years, Hoosiers Outrun Cancer has raised nearly $4 million in support of cancer patient needs beyond clinical care.

“Hoosiers Outrun Cancer and Bloomington Health Foundation have been dedicated to supporting local cancer patients and their families for over two decades,” says BHF President and CEO Jon Barada. “We are proud to partner and be able to offer these critical services at no cost to the community.”

The free virtual cancer support services will include:

  • Newcomer Meetings
  • Weekly Men’s Support Group
  • Monthly Women’s Support Group
  • Twice per month Living With Cancer Group
  • Twice per month Living With Loss Group
  • Weekly Strength in Sisterhood Group
  • Twice per month Prostate Group
  • Monthly cooking class
  • Monthly educational programs
  • Weekly art support therapy
  • YouTube videos and resources
  • “Any time” helpline
  • Access to Cancer Support Source distress screener
  • Access to www.mylifeline.org
  • Individual counseling

According to the Indiana Cancer Consortium, approximately two in five Hoosiers now living will eventually have cancer. Additionally, the most recent Monroe County Community Health Assessment states that cancer is consistently one of the top two causes of death in Monroe County.

Richards says, “This is just the start to what we hope will lead to a larger presence in and around south-central Indiana and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve patients and their families in this region of the state.”