I want to share a discovery with you. I had no idea! While doing some research for our upcoming 75th Anniversary Celebration, I found a connection between Associated Churches and Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.
Cancer Services' program "Hope in a Handbag" started at Associated Churches in 2007. Our past Executive Director, Rev. Vernon Graham, and his wife, Ellen Graham, started it with their daughter, Kristina. (Read more about Kristina's story below.)
A few years ago, Ellen decided to hand off the baton to Cancer Services and they have found it to be a blessing for those that walk in Kristina's footsteps.
I was shocked to learn that Cancer Services is also celebrating their 75th anniversary. What a coincidence!
In honor of their 75th Anniversary, I would like to say, "Congratulations and thank you for helping individuals and families through the struggle of cancer."
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The Beginning of Hope in a Handbag
Kristina Alderdice was a young stay-at-home mom washing dishes when she noticed a nagging pain near her armpit. Her husband urged her to see her doctor.
Her doctor didn’t seem overly concerned, but wanted to do a biopsy anyway. It was cancer and the kind that wouldn’t yield to a simple lumpectomy. Kristina needed to have both breasts and nine lymph nodes removed. She would need both chemotherapy and radiation and wouldn’t be a candidate for reconstruction.
It was a lot to take in. She was rarely sick. The diagnosis was hard to believe.
Kristina and her mother, Ellen, launched Hope in a Handbag with seed money from her father, Rev. Vernon Graham. The inspiration came from a similar program in Connecticut. Each Hope in a Handbag contains items Kristina wished she had after her surgery. Kristina told a friend, “It actually is a way to give back and thank people who were so generous to me. It became a healing thing for me.”
During her ten-year fight against cancer, Kristina inspired and encouraged hundreds of women. The contents of Hope in a Handbag are practical and thoughtful items that all women value after surgery. But even more than that, Hope in a Handbag is a way to let women know that they are not alone and that others who have walked this path are reaching out to provide comfort and hope.