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Camp Discovery: helping cancer patients regain quality of life

By Jenna Pizzi

Cancer patients came together for a different type of summer camp. Camp Discovery, in its fifth year at University of the Sciences, is a place for women whose lives have been impacted by cancer to learn, regain confidence in themselves and their abilities, and have fun.

The camp was held at USciences from Monday, June 5 through Friday, June 10. A second week  of camp will be held at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper in Camden from June 13 through June 17.

patients dancingThe camp is a collaboration between USciences professor Dr. Colleen Maher and Dr. Rochelle Mendonca at Temple University. The women share the role of camp director. 

The camp is free for women with cancer and about 30 women have enrolled to participate in each week.

This is the second year that the camp will also offer a week in Camden, which Dr. Maher said is important because Camden has been identified as an underserved community for cancer patients by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

“We wanted to reach out to those women who need these services the most,” Dr. Maher said.

Leslie Wilson, a Philadelphia resident who has struggled with breast cancer and is still undergoing hormone treatment, said the camp helps her be a more positive person.

“Cancer can be so difficult,” said Wilson, who has participated since the first year. “So I try to look for a silver lining as much as possible and I feel like this was put into my life for a reason.”

group of patients“I can’t dwell on the negatives because there are a lot of negatives,” Wilson said. “This was just such a beautiful experience so I just wanted to keep coming back.”

The women are led in crafting and different types of dancing or activities and are also served healthy snacks.

“They are really enjoying the physical activity and they are learning they can enjoy things that they didn’t think they could do,” said Dr. Mendonca.

The camp is also a learning experience for students from both universities who assist with day to day operations and activities.

“The students are learning about what is important, about quality of life. The other thing that the students are taking away from this is now they are familiar with this population of cancer survivors,” said Dr. Maher.

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