A New Paradigm for Health and Healing
May 01, 2017 03:04PM
● By Karen G. Meshkov
Healing to Empower and Restore (HER) Wellness Days at Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Newtown Square cutting-edge women’s health facility for Philadelphia area women that have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer are one of the organization’s signature programs. This interactive, one-day workshop will introduce women to the range of services and education that will be provided to them over the next year through their fully-funded “wellness passports”.
The group learns about yoga, acupuncture, organic nutrition, meditation reiki and more, all designed to help manage the side effects of cancer treatment and support their physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
Sue Weldon, the organization’s founder, explains that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a bilateral mastectomy and multiple rounds of chemo. With the cancer went her femininity and self-esteem, she says, surprised there were so few ongoing supports to help her manage and regain her physical and emotional health. The services that did exist were not covered by medical insurance. After discovering research on the effectiveness of integrating complementary therapies, Weldon embarked on a personal recovery plan that reduced her pain, increased her energy and improved her overall wellness.
It was then that she knew she wanted to make this available to other women, regardless of their financial situation. Over the next four years, Weldon went to work, with the support of many committed volunteers, building the mission of Unite for HER. Last year, the organization funded and delivered services to more than 1,000 local, newly diagnosed women. Each woman receives up to $2,000 in treatments and a personalized survivorship plan.
Together with a lean, dedicated staff and an ever-growing cadre of volunteers and philanthropic partners, what started as a small program at Paoli Hospital in 2010 has grown into a partnership with 16 hospitals that has served more than 3,000 breast cancer patients in the Philadelphia region. Weldon was awarded Philadelphia magazine’s prestigious Be Well Philly Health Hero award in 2016.
To close the divide between holistic health and traditional, allopathic medicine, the program has succeeded in gaining approval for acupuncture, massage therapy and other complementary healing modalities inside more than a dozen of the area’s major health systems, not just for breast cancer patients, but for patients with all forms of chronic and acute illnesses.
“Our program greatly benefits women with breast cancer in the Philadelphia area,” Weldon notes, “But what about women elsewhere? What about anyone, anywhere with a difficult diagnosis? These types of programs need to gain acceptance and be established universally. Right now, we can continue to add hospitals as funding permits, one at a time. We need the support of a health-conscious public. We need the support of partner institutions.”
Unite for HER exists as a nonprofit and is always working for its next donation or grant. Fundraisers such as The Pink Invitational, a national gymnastics meet, draws athletes from across the country and several high-profile corporate sponsors to yield more than $1.2 million last year.
For more information, email [email protected] or visit UniteForHer.orgKaren G. Meshkov is the publisher of Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery County.