Love Cancer Connection?
You Can Make a Difference as a Volunteer or Board Member
Cancer Connection Community Members,

Everyone can make a difference for people dealing with cancer using their own special skills and interests. if you love what we do, or if our Thrift Shop is your favorite thrift store, we can hook you up with ways to be of service. Below, Jean Einstein, a Board member and a very engaged Thrift Shop volunteer, talks about how she got involved with Cancer Connection. She shares about a very special project she is working on: reopening during the pandemic. Perhaps her experience will inspire you to volunteer and/or even serve on our Board.

Cancer Connection is recruiting additional members for our Board of Directors. Whether you are a community resident, business professional, parent, or retiree; a Cancer Connection participant, current volunteer, integrative therapist; or a professional with experience and skill in one of these areas: finance, law, fundraising and development, communications/marketing, or health and human services, Cancer Connection needs you. We invite you to apply. We're looking for individuals of all ages (18 and older). Cancer Connection is committed to diversity and inclusion on its Board and we welcome individuals of all backgrounds to apply.

The Board member application is available on our website. Please email Executive Director Beverly Herbert for more information and to send your application. We hope you will consider joining us!

If being a board member isn't right for you right now, please spread the word to those you know who would bring passion and commitment to CC's board. And consider joining a committee, working with staff and Board members on various projects. If you are interested in volunteering, learn more on our website, and please email our Center for more information.

See below for a story about Kathy Fleming, a physical therapist (PT) who is facilitating our two-part series, Lymphedema: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask. Lymphedema is a very thorny problem that people who have had breast cancer surgery and treatment may face. Kathy said, when it comes to the challenge of lymphedema, "education is power." We're grateful to Kathy for sharing her wealth of knowledge with our participants and for her deep commitment to caring for people living with cancer.


Lisa and Beverly

Lisa M. Sihvonen-Binder, MS NMP
President, Board of Directors

The Reverend Beverly L. Herbert, M.Div., C.F.R.E.
Executive Director
Lymphedema: a Little Known and Mystifying Condition. Join the Conversation!
Wearing a colorful compression sleeve. Photo Credit: LympheDIVAs and Bob Carey Photography
One of the many possible but little-known impacts of cancer surgery and other treatments is lymphedema.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling that can develop in the arm, hand, breast, or torso on the side where your lymph nodes were removed. This is called the affected side. Lymphedema develops when the lymph vessels in an area are no longer able to carry all the fluid away from the area. If this happens, the fluid can build up and cause swelling.” In addition to lymph node removal, “damage to your lymphatic system can also increase your risk of developing lymphedema.” ( Swift diagnosis and treatment can reduce swelling and preserve function.

Cancer Connection brought in lymphedema expert and physical therapist Kathryn Fleming, PT, CLT, to provide information on how this challenging condition may be treated and the risk of experiencing it reduced, in our 2-session workshop, “Lymphedema: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask.”

Kathy is internationally certified as a Dr. Vodder Manual Lymph Drainage/Combined Decongestive Therapy Instructor and practices using this therapeutic method. She developed the lymphedema program at Cooley Dickinson Hospital and makes presentations to physical therapy (PT) colleges, universities, PT departments, MD grand rounds, and cancer support groups throughout the state on the lymphatic system and lymphedema treatment and management. 

Below, we’re sharing some of the information Kathy is providing to participants in the workshops because people who have experienced and treated lymphedema have found patient and provider education to be critical in reducing the risks and improving patient outcomes.

It’s not too late to sign up for our second session of the lymphedema workshop to learn more:    
Thursday, October 8, from 1 – 2:15 PM via videoconference.  
Call us at 413-586-1642 or email us for more information and resources.
Workshop Facilitator Kathy Fleming
During the first workshop, Kathy Fleming described how the lymphatic system works and how it can be affected by cancer treatments. She says signs and symptoms of lymphedema to watch for include aching, skin changes, discomfort or heaviness, decreased joint flexibility, and rings, watchbands, or clothing becoming tight. “That's when you want to go to a lymphedema therapist; the sooner you catch it—the better the outcome.”

Kathy advocates that providers should send patients ahead of surgery and treatment to get measured and receive patient education. She said, “It’s so important to get measured before having lymph nodes removed or before radiation to get a baseline, to know what your normal is.”

Manual lymph drainage, careful application of compression, and exercise guidance, in an integrated program provided by well-trained and experienced therapists, are key to treatment.

Kathy also offers information about ways to reduce the risk of lymphedema that people going through cancer surgery and treatment can learn and practice before the condition might develop, during treatment, and long term.

We encourage people with questions about this complex condition to contact specialists who have additional training in the treatment of lymphedema. And we encourage anyone who may be at risk/affected to educate themselves about it.

Want to learn more? Know someone who might benefit from education about lymphedema? It's not too late to attend the second session of our lymphedema workshop:
Thursday, October 8, from 1 – 2:15 PM via videoconference.

To sign up for this or any of our programs, or for individual support, integrative therapies, and support groups:

  • Call our Center at 413-586-1642   
  • Leave a phone message and available times   
  • A Befriender will call you back
It's Hard Work but Fun:
Jean Einstein Serves with Gusto
Jean Einstein, Thrift Shop and Special Project Volunteer,
Vice President and Asst. Secretary, Board of Directors
Cancer Connection Volunteer and Board Member Jean Einstein, a virtually retired corporate lawyer, chose Western Mass to move to from Chicago about a year and a half ago. Before she moved here, she had heard from her twin sister, who started volunteering for the Thrift Shop soon after it was opened, about her work in the donation-sorting location in the back of the Shop.
Jean liked the idea of volunteering for a thrift shop but wanted to create her own life in the Valley and not encroach on her sister’s turf. But while looking for other similar opportunities through her online reading of the [Daily Hampshire] Gazette prior to her move, her sister said, ‘I really think you should come volunteer here, it’s amazing.”

Soon Jean was cashiering, as well as hanging, tagging, and pricing clothes, occasionally in the donation area with her twin. Jean likes to be outside on these beautiful fall days while she monitors the number of shoppers entering the store.

“It’s hard work but fun,” Jean said. “The vibrancy of working there is great. People just love the Thrift Shop. Since we reopened the store in August, shoppers have commented that the Thrift Shop is a much more comfortable place to shop than the big box stores. They’re so excited to be back, and they’re patient while shopping given the new restrictions.”

Jean said she was never a thrift shopper before volunteering. “People don’t view it as a thrift store. Our merchandise is high end and constantly changing, since it’s only on the floor for 4 to 5 weeks.”

A Board member reached out to recruit Jean, and she was appointed after careful vetting. “We’re transitioning from being a hands-on board in terms of operations to being a governing board given our excellent staff who oversee Cancer Connection’s operations. This is an exciting time to build our Board, to become involved with a wonderful charity. It’s also critically important to get involved with fundraising activities, especially this year, with the Thrift Shop closed for five months due to COVID-19.”

And then Jean found herself working on the special project of reopening Cancer Connection during the pandemic. Cancer Connection had to grapple with the requirement to follow a myriad of new state-mandated guidelines and governor’s orders.

“Christine had asked me to take a look at a couple things they needed for the Commonwealth's COVID-19 Control Plan to reopen the Thrift Shop, given my legal background. The rules were ever-changing from one week to the next, whether it was the number of shoppers permitted, whether changing rooms could be used, and similar requirements. It was so important that we reopen, and that we do it correctly” because Thrift Shop proceeds are a significant source of funding for Cancer Connection’s free programs and services.

Jean then signed on to actually draft the Control Plans for Cancer Connection. She is a part of the great team that successfully reopened the Thrift Shop. She is working on reopening the center to its office workers and researching how to eventually open it to participants.

“My view as a corporate lawyer is to focus on compliance to avoid liability. We needed to tailor the Plans to our specific situations with our buildings, staff, and clientele. Our services are not medical, but our clientele is higher risk, be it people going through cancer treatment, their families, and their caregivers, and our services mean we have very close contact with people. We are taking every precaution.”

Jean said that since her move to Western Mass, “it’s amazing what I’ve heard. Everyone seems to know Cancer Connection and praises the work we do. I could never have done this in Chicago. Moving to a smaller community, there’s a lot more opportunity to work with a well-established organization and hopefully to make a difference. I never could have imagined that I could go on a board with a 20-year old organization that is well-known in the area within six months of joining a community -- it’s been a great time to get involved.”

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