Jeffrey Keith of Fairfield knows better than almost anyone that cancer treatment has lasting effects long past remission of the disease itself. Thats why hes looking to create the first center for cancer survivorship in the state.
There are four pillars in the clinical recovery system, according to Keith. Nurses help with the testing and blood work while nutrionists discuss eating for optimal health. Then there are psychologists and physical therapists to offer suggestions. What doesnt exist is a centralized location to fulfill all of those needs as a continuum of care.
Well great, where do I go to do all of this, Keith asks, rhetorically, at his desk in the CT Challenge offices in Fairfield. Theyve told me everything thats wrong and what I need to do about it, but then I have to figure out where to go to do it. Thats where the Center for Cancer Survivorship comes in.
The Center for Survivorship is being built in Fairfield, and Keith hopes to have it operational in September. He hopes it will be the first of many across the state and nation. The center will have an environment tailored to meet the continued needs of cancer survivors, from psychosocial support through yoga and healthy eating counseling.
Keith lost his right leg when he was 12 to a rare bone cancer and tumor. A natural athlete, he didnt allow it to slow him down. However, as the years went on, Keith discovered he had a number of complications, not from the disease, but from the cure. I have scar tissue in my heart as a result of my treatment, he says.
Keith is also trying, through the CT Challenge website, to connect survivors with resources in their area. He wants an easily searchable index of service providers where survivors in any community can easily find nearby support.
To fund his dreams of providing the best resources possible for cancer survivors, Keith helped found the CT Challenge bike ride . This year will be the seventh for the fundraiser, and Keith anticipates the largest group yet. Were on track for 1,000 riders this year, he says. He expects donations in the vicinity of $1.4 million between private teams and corporate sponsors like BMW of Bridgeport.
How could we raise the most money the fastest, Keith ponders, again rhetorically. I didnt create the idea of the bike ride. Charity groups have been doing them for 25 years. I looked across the country at different rides and thought, Hey, we could really create something substantial. Keith notes that it isnt a race and that there are varying distances riders can commit to. Participants can sign up right up until the morning of the ride, July 30, in Westport. Theres no special training. Anyone can ride a bike, Keith says.
Are you riding in this years CT Challenge?