Duke's Cancer Center offers more than treatment for patients, families

Friday, June 26, 2015
Duke Cancer Center offers support
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The Duke Cancer Center offers much more than support for patients and families

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Duke's Cancer Center in Durham offers so much more than treatment for patients and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

From family therapy, to care for patients' children, to spa day, they offer so much support...and it doesn't cost the patients any extra money.

Natalie and Chad Rimmer are teachers with the Lutheran Church. They've been overseas for years, most recently in West Africa.

Natalie taught second grade. A little over a year ago, Natalie began having severe knee pain.

"We went to a doctor in Senegal and I had an MRI and I had a large tumor in my right leg," Natalie said. "Within three days I had been medically evacuated back to the U.S. I was brought to Duke and within a week I was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma."

Ewing's Sarcoma is a very rare bone cancer. Natalie's treatment would be at least a year of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. So, her family moved back to the U.S.

"We had to leave the home we had made, the friends, the community, and the support," Natalie explained.

As Natalie's sons started school in the U.S. for the first time, she came to Duke's Sarcoma Clinic, which offers family therapy.

"It really was two years of figuring out, not only what it means to survive, but to live in the middle of all of this," Natalie said.

Doctors and counselors help the whole family understand the treatment options and outcomes. There's even spa days available to treat everyone.

"Healing is not just a science, it's an art," said Natalie's husband, Chad.

And all of the support offered to Natalie's family was free of charge.

"It would have been very difficult without the Duke Cancer Patient Support program," Natalie said.

The support program at Duke relies heavily on philanthropy so they can offer services at no cost.

There's a big fundraiser this weekend in Durham, and ABC11's Anna Laurel will be the Master of Ceremonies.

To read more about the program, click here.