Seventeen years ago, Merokean Cindy Knoll was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even though she was then a patient undergoing treatment, she was also still a mother of three. The survivor said she doesn’t know what she would have done if her mother weren’t around to watch her then 1-year-old daughter and help –– and now she wants to make sure other local women battling the disease have the same support.
“You love your children, but you are worried about surviving,” she said. “I had a very good support group in my family, but some people don’t, and we want to help them. “
Knoll and other breast cancer survivors have teamed up with the Chabad Center for Jewish Life of Merrick-Bellmore-Wantagh to start Circle of Hope, an organization that will provide resources for patients, their families and the community in the form of financial assistance, emotional support and preventive health seminars.
Chanie Kramer, co-director for the center and Rabbi Shimon Kramer’s wife, said Chabad took up the initiative several months ago after discussing the idea with survivors like Knoll. She said there is a need in the community for resources for breast cancer patients, as she knows of many local women who have had or are combating the disease.
“Unfortunately,” she said, “there are so many people in this area dealing with the disease. Whatever they need, we want to be there for them.”
Kramer said that the center, which will be located at Chabad’s new facilities on Hewlett Avenue in Merrick, will serve several purposes. She and Knoll explained that they want to provide women with monetary assistance, rides to the doctor or hospital, summer camp scholarships for their children, monthly support groups, preventive testing and educational seminars.
Knoll said they would like therapists and nutritionists to be available for women who need help taking care of their bodies and minds during their battle with cancer. Survivors can also donate to the center’s wig bank for patients, she said, because quality pieces can cost a few thousand dollars.