The Hope Fund is named for Suzanne Hope, the instructor for the Getting Stronger exercise class for women cancer patients. Patients from all over central Virginia and from Martha Jefferson and the University of Virginia Hospitals were served by this program from 1995 through 2000. Suzanne devoted untold hours helping women feel better during and after cancer treatment through exercise and intelligent, compassionate support. Suzanne worked tirelessly to find ways to prop up patients in this critical time of need. Her program was so successful that it has served as a model for other exercise programs for cancer patients in Virginia. The Getting Stronger class continues under the auspices of the University of Virginia Cancer Center.
A few years ago Suzanne and the exercise class were instrumental in seeing a cancer patient with no means of family support through her last few months of life. She had trouble standing or walking and sometimes became dizzy, though she was not ready to be hospitalized. She was extremely weak and had difficulty eating. A productive worker before she had cancer, she had been forced to go on disability as a result of the effects of the severe treatments she had to undergo. When her furnace collapsed, she was unable to buy a new one at first. To get to her treatments, she drove an ancient car on its last legs. As bills arrived, she had to prioritize their payment. In short, trying to sustain her independence, she lived in constant fear that she would run out of money to meet basic needs such as food and heating. Facing death, she had to worry about the resources to get by in the last few months.
The purpose of the Hope Fund is to provide emergency resources to cancer patients in a timely fashion. These funds are available to cancer patients in Virginia when public funds are unavailable or to serve as a bridge to sustain a patient during application processing. Qualified patients are referred and sponsored by a chaplain or a social worker.