By Rhonda Massad
Every 12 hours in Montreal an adolescent or young adult learns they have cancer. Venturing Out Beyond Our Cancer (VOBOC) is a community group that reaches out to those victims of cancer from 13-39 years old.
According to Doreen Edward, founder of VOBOC and two time cancer survivor, a cancer diagnosis at any age is difficult but learning that you have cancer while you are still in school, just starting your career or beginning to raise a family is devastating.
The Suburban visited the Pointe Claire offices of VOBOC while they were packing up the latest batch of 50 backpacks to be given to young cancer patients. A VO-Pak contains tools and resources to help navigate the cancer experience.
“Today we are packing VO-Paks, with three separate kits in each backpack,” VOBOC’s programs and administration associate, Alisson Weiss explained, “You have an information kit that will help guide the patient to the right support groups and answer any questions that they have.”
“Their questions are very different from the older population; they have boyfriends, school and first jobs. They need specialized support groups.”
Also included in the VO-Pak is a comfort kit and Venturing out kit. The comfort kit provides everything a young person needs for an overnight hospital stay. Pajamas, slippers, blanket, water bottle, T-shirt and of course the VOBOC mascot lion stuffed animal symbolizing courage. The venturing out kit includes a $50 gift certificate allowing the youth to escape cancer if only for a short time.
More than 140 VO-Paks were distributed last year with an expectation to distribute more this year.
VOBAC also provides a special and last request program where the patient can make a special wish or request. Requests can take on many forms such as a hockey game, a wedding anniversary celebration or a trip to a lakeside cottage. Last year VOBOC granted 46 last requests and delivered 140 holiday baskets to those confined to the hospital on Dec. 24.
Weiss explained that VOBOC’s mission is to work with hospital oncology teams to provide newly diagnosed patients with tools, resources, diversion and a connection to support services. VOBOC currently partners with several major hospitals including the Lakeshore General, Jewish General, Montreal Children’s, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, St. Mary’s and the Montreal Neuro.
More information about VOBOC can be found at www.voboc.org
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