Mrs. North Dakota International 2016 – Ashley Rae Klinger
Cope Well to Live Well - The Emotional Journey through Cancer Survivorship
Hello, everyone! Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Thank you for taking the time to check out my latest blog post. Today, I’m going to share some information with you about the emotional journey through cancer survivorship, as it relates to my personal platform; The Cope Well Foundation.
For those of you who may not be familiar with my platform, The Cope Well Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the emotional recovery of cancer survivorship. As the emotional affects of cancer are often times overlooked, ignored and even misunderstood, the main mission of Cope Well is to help those who have been affected by cancer ‘cope’ affectively with the emotional challenges of cancer survivorship…while bringing awareness to ALL survivors of ALL cancer types.
As the Founder of The Cope Well Foundation, it was my own unexpected diagnoses of Melanoma Skin Cancer in 2008, and my personal journey with cancer survivorship, that sparked my initial passion to start a foundation that could have a positive and long-lasting impact on those it supported, while also having relevance to my own experience. After thoroughly exploring the emotional affects that cancer had on my life and those close to me, as well as the emotional affects that cancer had on other survivors and their support systems, The Cope Well Foundation eventually came to life and became available to cancer survivors all around the country in 2011.
Through my explorations, I came to many important realizations of cancer survivorship. The most important realization being the true emotional affects that cancer has on so many people, regardless of the type, stage or treatment level of their cancer. More so, there’s a tremendous amount of focus put on physical affects of cancer, but the emotional affects are often times overlooked, ignored and even misunderstood; even though they too can have a long-lasting impact. Also, because not everyone knows how to recognize and effectively cope with the emotional challenges of cancer survivorship, nor do they know where to turn for help due to the lack of emphasis that has been put on the issue, efforts of ‘coping’ with these challenges on their own can be less than successful.
For those reasons, I found it to be critical to provide cancer survivors with an outlet that could help them recognize, cope with and overcome the emotional challenges of their own survivorship journey, so that the emotional affects of their journey would have a positive impact on their lives instead of a negative one. However, because each survivor has their own unique set of survivorship needs and copes differently with the emotional affects, I realized very quickly that it’s important to provide survivors with a variety of coping outlets. Just as there are a variety of options to address the physical affects, there equally needs to be a variety of options to address the emotional affects. Therefore, Cope Well offers three different programs with the hopes of giving cancer survivors the freedom to create their own unique set of resources to help them ‘cope well’ during their survivorship journey. And, each program is completely personalized to their unique experience and survivorship needs.
· Mentorship – This program aims to build connections and support systems for survivors on a more personal level and in a comfortable and relaxing environment. We do this by connecting survivors with trained Cope Well Mentors and even other survivors. Whether it be a conversation over a cup of coffee or on the phone, or even just having someone by their side while sitting in a movie or out on a walk, there are no limitations to the support that Cope Well’s Mentorship Program can provide to survivors.
· Activities – This program aims to help alleviate stress associated with cancer survivorship by rejuvenating a survivor's overall emotional well-being! It serves as another coping outlet that gives our members the option to get involved with an activity in the community of their choice. Whether it be going to a movie, taking a pottery class, getting a massage or taking in a sporting event, this program is the perfect way to temporarily free a survivor’s mind of their survivorship worries.
· Counseling – This program serves as yet another coping outlet that aims to help survivors cope with the emotional challenges of their cancer survivorship on a deeper level and in a more formal environment. We do this by connecting survivors with Certified Counselors in the community who are equipped with knowledge and have experience pertaining to the overall affects of cancer survivorship. Although not for everyone, counseling can provide survivors with an in-depth look at their survivorship journey and the affects cancer has had throughout the different areas of their lives.
Although not diagnosed, the affects of cancer also have an emotional impact on those who support those in need. Therefore, Cope Well’s services, which are all free, are available to those individuals as well to show how grateful we are for their continued support and commitment.
With more than 28 million people affected by cancer around the world, and close to 11 million new cases that are diagnosed each year, this is an obvious issue and cause that can’t be ignored. Therefore, the core principles of The Cope Well Foundation are based on the emotional needs of those affected by cancer and the challenges they face throughout their survivorship journey. It’s those individuals, and the true difference that Cope Well is making in their lives, that is the continued driving force behind the foundation, and it’s Cope Well’s ultimate goal to help those who have been affected by cancer ‘Cope Well to Live Well’.
In the future, Cope Well would love to add additional focus areas to our organization that would provide our services to those who are going through different types of survivorship journeys, as emotional recovery isn't limited to Cancer alone!
Until next time, continue to ‘make a difference’ and remember, together, we can ‘cope well to live well’.
Ashley Rae Klinger
Mrs. North Dakota International 2016