Snapshot: As leader of the Cancer Survivors Association, Linda Lochbaum is bringing awareness to the cause
The Centre County-based Cancer Survivors Association Inc. runs under a motto of hope embodied in a quote by Charles Henry Sawyer: “Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything.”
The association has been helping local cancer patients since 2000 and continues to bring awareness of the cause and to help its members through a support group, tote bags, and social events.
“We believe that everyone is a survivor one minute after diagnosis,” says Linda Lochbaum, the president of the organization. “Taking care of all of you is important for all healing.”
The group was formed to provide support to all cancer patients, regardless of cancer type.
With just 14 board members running the association, everything else is done through the help of the six medical offices with which the association works. These include offices and partnerships associated with Mount Nittany Medical Center, Geisinger, and Penn State Hershey.
The group is known best for its survivor totes. The tote contains a water bottle, blanket, pen, hand sanitizer, a nutrition book aimed at cancer patients, and a treatment organizer. The organizer contains fill-in-the-blank sheets for patients to track their diagnosis, medical history, treatments, and appointments.
The tote also contains a card for patients to fill out during or after their treatment to identify themselves to the organization, as HIPAA laws prevent the group from contacting patients directly. The organization gives out hundreds of totes every year, with the 2018 total nearing 300.
The association offers a support group on the third Monday of the month from September through May and holds two major events during the year. A “Dinner of Thanks” is held in November with the assistance of a Penn State parks and tourism management class. Their 2018 dinner was a Great Gatsby-themed gala and was entirely planned by the students, with food donated by a local grocery store. In June, the organization holds a survivors picnic for members and those who help the group.
Since beginning the tote mission, the organization has received funding from several different sources. This is the fourth year it has received funding from the JB Griffin Foundation.
The organization also receives a lot of help from the nurses, secretaries, and medical professionals who hand out the totes to patients and give out information for its events and meetings. Community members and local businesses also donate to the effort.
“This community is very giving,” says Lochbaum, who has been with the association for about six years.
Lochbaum is a former nurse and two-time breast cancer survivor. Her first battle with cancer happened just a month after receiving her nurse’s certification in 1992. Following her career as a nurse, Lochbaum went into partial retirement and devotes much of her time to the association.
“I wanted to do something that I could feel was meaningful,” she says. “I saw the potential for what it could do for others.”
Lochbaum’s experience as a nurse showed her that advances are possible within the world of cancer treatment. Her cancer survival taught her that early diagnosis is a key.
“I hope to see some sort of resolution to cancer before my time is up,” Lochbaum says.
During her time as the president of the organization, Lochbaum has seen the local distribution points for the totes triple in size. Lochbaum hopes to continue expanding the organization’s resources for local cancer patients and raising community awareness of the organization.
“There’s still a lot of people who don’t know about us,” she says. “We can do a great deal to support those with cancer.”
For more information on the Cancer Survivors Association Inc., visit cancersurvive.org or call (814) 237-2120.