The Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia is now home to a support network for men who have been touched by cancer — either with their own diagnosis, or the treatment of a loved one.
The Men’s Support Network was piloted by CTCA’s Spiritual Support team and other male employees at CTCA in Philadelphia.
The network was started with five men — one of the members is a two-time survivor of cancer, two of the men lost their mother to the disease, while one lost his wife and the fifth member lost multiple family members to cancer.
The MSN was created because CTCA employees realized an unmet need of both male patients and caregivers who were internalizing feelings resulting from a cancer diagnosis, rather than letting these emotions out and getting the support they needed.
“We decided that since we had this one focus that we could connect on as men, it would be an ideal thing to follow up on the suggestions that had been made and reach out to men who were patients and caregivers and draw them into a forum where they just had the freedom to speak as men and not feel the need to bottle it up inside and hold it in and pretend to be strong when at times we really are not,” said Wendell Scanterbury, one of the network’s founding members, who lost his mother to cancer.
“We need that support.”
The network meets at 3 p.m. every second and fourth Wednesday of the month on the campus of CTCA. On average about 15 men attend the hour-long sessions.
The meetings give participating men a platform to share their respective stories, concerns, fears, anxieties and their victories.
“We pretty much tell how life is impacting us in the context of cancer and manhood,” said Scanterbury, who is the supervisor of CTCA’s Spiritual Support team.
Since the network’s launch in April, Scanterbury has received feedback from participants who appreciate knowing that they share similar experiences with other men.
“Because men tend not to open up emotionally, as a result of that, we get the sense that we are walking alone — that we are doing all this by ourselves. The men realize that they are not alone in their experience, and there is someone else who can really understand what they are saying and what they are feeling, because they have been walking in the same shoes.
The forum gives men the opportunity to bond. Scanterbury noted that the experience helps motivate men to help each other.
“We’ve had men invite other men to join the forum just because they have seen the benefits of it,” Scanterbury added.
Founded in 1988, CTCA provides a comprehensive, patient-centered treatment model that integrates traditional, medical treatments with complementary therapies such as nutrition, naturopathic medicine, psychological counseling, physical therapy and spiritual support.