The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 2,300 cancer survivors and current cancer patients were living in the areas of Maui affected by the wildfires. To help patients deal with trauma and loss caused by their cancer diagnosis and the devastation of the fires, ACS is teaming up with Maui Cancer Resources to offer group therapy sessions.
The free workshops, led by Dr. Bridget Bongaard, will be held at locations across Maui. The workshops launch Sept. 13 at Nāpili Kai Beach Resort with additional dates being added. Each session is limited to 10 participants. Patients attend one group session and also have an option for a follow-up individual consultation. Anyone who would like to participate is encouraged to call 808-866-6155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Many people have experienced major trauma due to the wildfires and people living with a cancer diagnosis have even more loss that they are dealing with,” said Amanda Oberle, MPH, Associate Director of State Partnerships for the American Cancer Society. “The American Cancer Society is pleased to partner with Maui Cancer Resources to ensure cancer patients on Maui have critical mental health services to help them manage the trauma and loss that is unique to having cancer and exacerbated by the wildfire crisis.”
“I’m so grateful to the American Cancer Society for making these workshops possible,” said Dr. Bridget Bongaard of Maui Cancer Resources who will lead the sessions. “Patients who have experienced trauma and loss due to the fires in addition to their cancer diagnosis need support to work with the difficult feelings created by the disaster and learn strategies that will empower, give hope and resilience as they move forward with their new life situation. I encourage anyone from Maui who is living with cancer to call and register for one of the sessions.”
Nearly 8,500 Hawaiʻi residents are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year and many thousands throughout the Hawaiian Islands are living with the disease. The recent wildfire crisis has caused some Maui patients to be left without medication, medical supplies, and access to cancer treatment as well as food, clean water and shelter, according to the organizations.
“Dealing with the aftermath of the wildfires is extremely difficult for all on Maui,” said Laura Creider, American Cancer Society director in Hawaiʻi. “Due to their medical needs, the crisis is exacerbated even more for people with cancer. They may be without medication and medical equipment. Their treatment center may have burned or be closed. Some have lost their homes and their cars. They are dealing with many things that stop them from focusing on their cancer care, but the American Cancer Society is here for them in their time of need.”
The American Cancer Society responded to the crisis in Maui by providing critical aid and resources for affected patients including airfare, food, and lodging assistance. The American Cancer Society Clarence T.C. Ching Hope Lodge in Honolulu, which provides free lodging to cancer patients and their families, has begun accepting patients displaced by the fires. ACS is also working closely with area hotels to secure additional low- or no-cost housing options.
ACS is accepting donations to the Hawaiʻi Cancer Response Fund to support critical services for cancer patients in Hawaiʻi. All donations will be utilized to support the unique needs of Hawaiʻi patients facing barriers to care during the current crisis and throughout the recovery. Donations can also be made specifically to the Hope Lodge in Hawaiʻi.
ACS is also recruiting volunteer drivers for its Road To Recovery program on Maui which provides free rides to cancer treatment. Volunteer drivers must pass a background check and complete a short training. Anyone interested can call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org/drive.