Promoting Life at HopeClub

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"Macho Guy" Dick Vore finds second home at One Penny Lane

When cancer survivor Dick Vore walks through the doors of the American Cancer Society’s HopeClub, he walks into his second home. His HopeClub family knows what he’s been through, they understand him and support him. For these reasons and many more, Dick keeps coming back - which is surprising since he never wanted to walk though the doors in the first place.

A retired police officer who served his community for 28 years, Dick considered himself a “macho guy who didn’t need anyone’s help.” But a cancer diagnosis five years ago changed that.

Dick was told he was suffering from asthma, but when he had difficulty swallowing and felt a lump in his throat, his gut told him it was more serious. “Even though a doctor told me it was just asthma, I advocated for my own health and went for a second opinion. That decision saved my life,” he said. Dick had a rare malignant tumor attached to his trachea. After nine and a half hours of surgery-the first of its kind done at his local hospital-the tumor was removed and his trachea reattached.

After his surgery Dick fell into a bit of a depression. He had to quit his job with the police force because the dogs he trained could no longer understand commands from his new voice. “I didn’t talk to anyone about my feelings, I didn’t think I needed anyone,” he said. So instead he kept to himself and spent a lot of time alone at home. That changed when his wife, Debra, forced him into the car and drove him to the former Gilda’s Club - now the American Cancer Society’s HopeClub. “Don’t come home until you’ve joined,” she said.

“I didn’t want to go, but walking through that door was the best thing I have ever done,” he said. “I was immediately welcomed with open arms. I meet other survivors and caregivers who become family. I am in touch with my feelings and emotions. I have support from people who understand. We don’t only talk about cancer; we talk about our families, our hopes, dreams, and disappointments.”

“HopeClub has given me a new outlook on life,” he said. “I look forward to every single day.”

In the five years since his diagnosis, Dick has started running 5K races and attends meetings at HopeClub once a week.

“After being faced with cancer, not knowing whether you’d survive or not, and being told that if you do survive you may never speak again, your life is never the same,” he said. “But I decided not to let cancer control my life, in fact I’ve let cancer change my life for the better.”

“HopeClub is the only program of its kind in New York's Capital Region,” said Tracy Pitcher, American Cancer Society Senior Director of Cancer Control and Director of HopeClub. “HopeClub empowers people touched by cancer to learn more about the disease and to experience programs that promote healing and wellness; to connect with others facing similar situations; and to benefit from a support network that promotes life.”

In 2010, Gilda's Club of the Capital Region became the first-ever American Cancer Society HopeClub. While the name is new, the mission remains the same and the spirit of community and support have not changed at all. HopeClub serves as the hub of all the American Cancer Society’s patient and family service programs in the Albany, NY area.  Programs are open to cancer survivors, their families and friends – anyone who has been touched by cancer.

At Hope Club, members can get help navigating the cancer experience, learn how to deal with the appearance-related side-effects of cancer, and rides to treatment can be arranged in addition to a range of other services.  They host a variety of classes and activities to keep members active both physically and mentally, many support and networking groups, and lectures by medical, legal and health experts on topics relevant to living with cancer. Members enjoy card games, holiday dinners, parties, luncheons, and video game tournaments are held where members enjoy the company of one another.

HopeClub has more than 500 members; 89 of them are under the age of 18. 

HopeClub hosts a KidsClub which helps children and teens express their feelings about cancer in their lives – either their own illness or that of a family member or friend.  Fun activities like arts and crafts, cooking, dancing and special parties are coupled with support programs and trained professionals to help children get through these difficult times.

For more information on the Hope Club, or to view the schedule of events visit Hope Club online or call 800-227-2345.

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.