Cancer Support Center MT IMG_4798_web
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Major renovations will give improvements to Homewood’s Cancer Support Center

  The Cancer Support Center at 2028 Elm Road in 
  Homewood is due for major renovations.
(Photo by
  Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

After more than 20 years at 2028 Elm Road in Homewood, the Cancer Support Center is going to get a major sprucing up.

The space in the red brick building will be reconfigured to give patrons a new welcome center, more space for activities and additional privacy when needed.
The Cancer Support Center is in the midst of a major fundraising effort to pay for the renovations in Homewood, and an expansion at its Mokena office. Its board of directors set a goal of $750,000 for the capital campaign. Thus far, more than $350,000 has been raised.
“This is all customer driven,” said Jim Kvedaras of CN Railway, president of the center’s board of directors. “We want to accommodate them the best way we can.”
The nonprofit Cancer Support Center offers its services free of charge. As survivorship rates improve, patron numbers are growing. Advances in medical care are changing what cancer patients need, and Kvedaras says that is “interesting and encouraging and it means we have more people coming to the center.”
Sue Armato, Cancer Support Center’s executive director, said in 2016 the center staff gave 12,500 hours of service. Doctors are recommending the center offer new health initiatives and wellness programming, so changes include adding another meeting space and designating an exercise room.
“If you look at medical research, it shows a really strong correlation between exercise and health, so having the fitness room is key and we’ll have bands and weights and people can drop in to do their own resistance and strengthening (exercises) at their own pace,” she said.
Currently, guests come into the center from the parking lot and into a long hallway. With the renovation, people will use the front door on Elm that will be decked out with an awning to mark the entrance. And, it will be handicapped accessible.
Guests will be greeted by a receptionist who will give an immediate welcome “that is very important,” Armato said.
Furnishings and storage space will be removed from the Great Room to give additional space for programming, such as yoga sessions.
Armato said the couches will be moved to a newly configured “quiet space.” The library will have its own walls, rather than being part of the current wide-open reception area.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer and you go for those first meetings, it’s really like a foreign language to you,” Armato, a cancer survivor, said. Patients often come to the center immediately after hearing their diagnosis so that they can sit in the library and learn what is happening to them “and gain power from having the information.”
The two bathrooms will be updated for handicapped accessibility. The plan also calls for an enclosed outside space off the parking lot that can continue to serve as the vegetable and herb garden, as well as a multi-purpose space for yoga or art sessions.
The center recently incurred two major expenses: a new roof and structural work on one wall.  “They aren’t pretty things, but they’re essential. The roof is $70,000” and is part of the capital campaign, Armato said.

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