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Local woman's vision leads to unique family offering

ANN ARBOR, MI - Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer knows there are numerous opportunities for support. This support ranges from classes to help patients look good and feel better to support groups for children of cancer patients to group meetings focusing on a specific type of cancer. One element missing in this system of support is an offering where family and friends can come together to share their cancer experience together. That one element has been missing until now.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System of Ann Arbor (SJMHS) and the University of Michigan (U-M) Comprehensive Cancer Center will present a unique program for families who are going through the cancer experience. The Circle of Care Family Retreat will be held Saturday, March 31 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at U-M's Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 North Dixboro Road in Ann Arbor. The retreat is a result of the vision of a local woman who recently lost her battle with cancer, Christy Yenkel.

"Christy noticed that there were many opportunities for support for cancer patients, but they sometimes fragmented and separated the family into separate groups. Her vision was to have the healthcare community offer a program where the cancer experience could be shared as a family, not as separate individuals," says Debbie Mattison, Social Worker, McAuley Cancer Care Center of SJMHS.

Yenkel's love of community involvement and her dream of providing care and support to loved ones dealing with cancer has grown to become the Christy Yenkel Fund for Community Cancer Care.

Her fund is a sponsor of this event. The Circle of Care Family Retreat will include activities that help patients and families reflect on the experience of cancer. These activities will include a nature walk and opportunities for discussion and sharing of the family cancer experience as well as sharing lunch and dinner - all set in the beautiful, serene surroundings of U-M's Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

"We hope to create an open atmosphere where family members can discuss their journeys and share the impact cancer has on each of their lives," says Suzanne Mahler, Director of the Healing Arts Program at the U-M Cancer Center.

Registration fees for the Circle of Care Family Retreat are $10 per person or $25 per family. To register or for more information, please call 800-865-1125 by March 16.

Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital offers a full range of services for cancer patients and their families. It is the leading research institution of the Ann Arbor Regional Community Clinical Oncology Program and participates in more than 150 cancer treatment and prevention trials.

Established in 1986, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only 38 National Cancer Institute-designed comprehensive cancer centers in the country. The Center's nearly 300 physicians and researchers receive $65 million in grants each year and participate in multidisciplinary programs to rapidly bring scientific findings to the clinical setting where they can benefit patients.

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Speak with a Cancer nurse: 1-800-865-1125