PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the city of bridges lies Cancer Bridges.
The organization supports adults and children who are impacted by cancer, bringing hope and healing to families.
“It reminds me that I’m not alone in this,” said Tammy Smith.
During one of the most difficult times in her life, Tammy discovered Cancer Bridges.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in mid-May,” said Tammy. “It was really overwhelming.”
Since then, Tammy has gone through chemotherapy, a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and is preparing for years of treatment — but she knows she’ll have her family and Cancer Bridges by her side.
“We focus on the emotional, physical and social well-being of folks impacted by cancer because a lot of people need support beyond the medical treatments,” said Dani Wilson, the Cancer Bridges executive director. “That includes clinical therapy, support groups, educational lectures, health and wellness classes, creative expression and social activities.”
Wilson says the Cancer Caring Center and Our Clubhouse recently merged to become Cancer Bridges.
They offer more than 230 free activities, serving hundreds of people each month.
“We’ve had such an increase in members,” said Wilson. “Our individual sessions increased over 300% throughout the pandemic because of both the need and anxiety and accessibility.”
The virtual sessions have been a huge convenience for Tammy and her family, who are part of the Family and Youth Program.
“So, we might do things like explain cancer with Legos or use dolls and toys and medical equipment to clear misconceptions about cancer,” said Abby Ziegler, the Family and Youth Program manager. “Really finding strategies to meet the child’s understanding and their coping styles, to empower them to ask questions.”
The organization does this while connecting them with others who are also navigating their cancer journey.
The program manager says they’ve served more than 1,000 children from 600 families so far.
“I feel humble to work with families during one of the most difficult times in their lives,’ said Ziegler. “I’m inspired by the strength and resilience we see every day. We’re here to listen, and they’re not alone.”
“I like the activities and how they support me feeling better,” said Tammy’s son Christian, 11, and her 8-year-old daughter, Rosanna, agreed.
“Being able to have them [kids] be helped is pretty awesome given how everything is,” said Blaine Campbell, Tammy’s boyfriend. “Especially with COVID and us working from home, being able to have counseling be remote is a huge help, too.”
The organization is making it their mission to support families during the diagnosis stage and for years after.
“This program definitely make my journey a lot easier,” said Tammy. “I just cannot imagine going through any of this without this program.”
If you’re interested in getting involved or using their services, click here.