Arizona Oncology Foundation was granted 501(c)3 non-profit status in 2012. However, the inception of supportive services to cancer patients came to the Tucson community long before.
As far back as the early 90’s, Arizona Oncology physicians recognized the need for integrative therapies and supportive services for their patients. While doctors are trained to diagnose and treat cancer, there are a myriad of other issues for patients to consider. Things such as how their lives would be impacted and changed were not being addressed. Patients wanted and needed information about nutrition, emotional aspects of the diagnosis itself, physical activity, the psycho-social piece, and retaining a sense of well-being, despite the very serious diagnosis. They wanted more support on day-to-day living with cancer.
In 1993, Dr. Michael Manning, and Dr. Robert Brooks, along with their colleagues, partnered with Tucson Medical Center to begin offering the first of what would turn into many cancer support services. The very innovative program began with breast cancer support services, but quickly expanded to include patients with all sorts of cancer. Cancer support groups were formed, a resource library was created and practitioners of healing touch, acupuncture, lymphatic massage, meditation and other holistic therapies were contracted to provide patient support.
In 2001, Sunstone Cancer Support Centers was created to expand integrative cancer support services throughout the community. In collaboration with Sunstone, the physicians at Arizona Oncology added a resource center in the northwest area of Tucson and expanded services to all Arizona Oncology Cancer Centers. For eight years, people touched by cancer sought services at five locations, including a 12-acre retreat center. Financial difficulties caused Sunstone to close in 2009. However, the need for integrative cancer services in Tucson remained.
When Sunstone closed, patients immediately came to the doctors, saying that integrative and support services helped them get through their cancer treatment and it would help others as well. Together, patients and the physicians knew these services had to continue in Tucson. “A volunteer program of cancer survivors had been at the heart of Sunstone. Those determined supporters were the voice that made our cancer doctors realize how important a holistic approach is to the healing process” said Dr. Marilyn Croghan, who spear-headed and became the President of the Foundation. With the support of Arizona Oncology physicians, services did continue until Arizona Oncology Foundation could be formed.
Dedicated to promoting health, healing, and survivorship to cancer patients, family members and caregivers, today, Arizona Oncology Foundation provides services to anyone touched by cancer regardless of where they seek their traditional treatment or their ability to pay. The foundation provides programs and services that target the emotional, social, movement and educational aspects of cancer care as well as care for side-effects. AOF offers programs in the areas of Image – free wigs, headcoverings, hair and skincare, breast prosthesis and post mastectomy items; Social and Emotional – support groups, meditation, and breath-work; Educational – cancer lending library, Survive Well educational series, physician talks, open houses where people can sample treatments and health fairs; Pain and Side-effect Management – free dental services, integrative therapies such as massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, healing touch, reiki, manual lymph drainage, hypnosis and craniosacral therapy; Movement and Nutrition – gentle yoga, qi gong, tai ji, functional strength training, healthy steps, and nutrition counseling especially for cancer patients; Financial Assistance – transportation assistance in the form of gas cards for those who drive but cannot afford the gas for the numerous trips to doctors and care appointments and referrals for those who do not drive and need a ride to those appointments. Lodging assistance is available when someone has to travel a distance for cancer treatment. Vouchers for co-pays of integrative therapies are available.
We are serving people whose lives have been changed forever. Together, we can make the cancer journey a little easier for patients and their loved ones. Together is always better!