Cancer Services providing hope, hair and friendship

By Ben Tierney
Follow @MidlandFDN

In the fall of 2015, the Midland Area Community Foundation approved a $40,000 grant to Cancer Services of Midland, allowing them to expand their programming and serve more clients in need. See more recent grants here.

Spend some time in Cancer Services of Midland's unassuming downtown office, and you get the feeling good things happen often. Office staff are quick with a smile or a joke. For cancer patients like Tiffany Clark, a simple joke can be a breath of fresh air.

"We have fun here," says Julie Nunn, Cancer Services Executive Director. "We see a lot of difficult situations, and our job is to brighten their day however we can."

Tiffany arrived with her boyfriend Josh for this interview, and immediately they were chatting with Julie like old friends.

"Do you want some coffee or tea?" Julie asked, pointing to one of those single-use beverage makers taking up limited office space.

"That's a really nice coffee station cabinet," said Tiffany.

"Guess what, we're getting a new one. Do you want this one? It's yours," said Julie.

In September, Clark was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Cervical Cancer. She's 28 years old.

"One day you're skipping along, everything is merry. The next your whole world is flipped upside down," said Tiffany.

Clark heard about Cancer Services from a fellow radiation patient, who she sees five times a week. Cancer Services does not provide help with medical costs or anything related to the medical care of their clients. So what do they offer? "Everything else," according to Nunn.

Clark's most immediate need was a wig. Her first visit to the office was under a baseball cap, hiding what she calls a "Bozo the clown bald spot look." Today she sports bright teal and white strands - colors representing cervical cancer.

Cancer Services also helps clients with financial aid for urgent, non-medical bills. "They stack up," says Clark. "It sounds bad, but you stop caring. You're fighting for your life."

Cancer Services cut Clark a check to keep her electricity on. She's also taken advantage of counseling services. "You have no time to deal with your emotions," said Clark. "You're just going, going, going. You need someone to talk to."

In addition to wigs, Cancer Services offers wellness classes, turbans, nutritional supplements and other supplies free of charge. They also have patient support volunteers who can provide transportation to and from appointments.

"Facing cancer can be overwhelming," says Nunn. "No one should go through that alone. If nothing else, we're here to talk."

Cancer Services of Midland has been serving clients in Midland, Clare and Gladwin counties since 1948.