When cancer is gone, is it really? Yes, the tumors may have been eradicated, but what about the fear, anxiety, and the emotional toll the disease has left in its wake? At Wellness Within, they know that “it” doesn’t end when your treatment stops.
Coming Together to Serve Everyone
Albie Aware and Wellness Within both exist for one reason – to make sure no one has to face cancer alone. It’s a
partnership that offers complementary services with immediate benefits for individuals facing cancer. The goal is to ease the journey. It’s local and it’s personal.
Patti Brown, MS, LMFT
Wellness Within in Roseville is a nonprofit wellness center for patients, survivors, caregivers, and families affected by the trauma of cancer. It was founded by Patti Brown in 2010 and inspired by a dear friend of 40 years who had received the dreaded diagnosis. Patti, who is certified in mind-body medicine, started Wellness Within to help people cope with the mental and emotional stresses of cancer.
Elizabeth Klein, Director of Outreach and Community Relations
In 2007, Elizabeth Klein’s sister was diagnosed with aggressive triple negative breast cancer. Soon after, Elizabeth herself was stricken with thyroid cancer.
“We went through treatments together,” Elizabeth says. “Then, my sister had a recurrence and I had a second diagnosis five years later. This
time it was breast cancer. My sister did not survive. She died in 2013 a few weeks after her 46th birthday. They had given her 18 months, but she lived six years.”
Elizabeth was devastated. “Here I am with young children, losing my sister, and with a second diagnosis. I couldn’t keep it together. I needed to learn how I was going to live with cancer for the rest of my life. Friends insisted that I get some help and someone told me about Wellness Within. It was transforming.”
Wellness Within offers programs in Meditation and Mindfulness, Healing Movement, Therapeutic Art, and Nutrition & Cooking. Each person chooses classes based on their individual needs. There is no charge, but donations are welcome. “The focus of the program is to change your power relationship with cancer and enhance the quality of life,” explains Elizabeth.
The Wellness Within website says it best: “We understand the larger impact of what having a cancer diagnosis means for each individual. We know the whole person is affected, thus, our mission is to offer tools that speak to the needs of each individual to restore healing and instill hope.”
Elizabeth’s journey took a positive turn. “Last spring Patti and I met for coffee. Patti said she needed a Director of Outreach and Community Relations and offered me the job. I started right away. I had been working at my husband’s pub, The Monk’s Cellar, plus I had 20 years of experience in the corporate world. This is a lot different. I’m still learning the lay of the land, but this is my dream job. I am passionate about the program.”
As a client, Elizabeth was instantly drawn to Wellness Within. “I found a nourishing community and a place to rebalance my soul while I navigated my cancer journey. The mission of Wellness Within is to enhance the quality of life for those affected by cancer. They certainly did that for me.”
A Busy Life Gets Busier
In addition to surviving cancer and all that entails, Elizabeth is the mother of two active boys (they were 4 and 5 at the time of her first diagnosis). She enjoys cooking, gardening, playing the flute, and riding her recently adopted thoroughbred, Brooklyn.
And of course, Covid-19 adds another level of difficulty to life. Elizabeth says, “Like Albie Aware, we work with an immune-compromised community. So, we are currently providing virtual
resources and support to the community while we stay home and stay safe together. We are grateful to our instructors who began videotaping classes within days of the pandemic hitting. We are still refining how we serve our clients over Zoom.”
And, like Albie Aware, Wellness Within’s fundraisers have been cancelled, adding to the challenges of providing necessary services to people in difficult circumstances.
Filling the Need
Wellness Within typically serves 300 clients per year. Because some come multiple times, they have between 2,000 and 3,000 class registrations. “We offer 500 classes per year along with retreats. We plan to offer retreats quarterly, typically at the Sierra Health Foundation. We’re also developing plans to work with the Health Education Council & Latino Leadership Council to expand our programming reach. And we have a great relationship with the Sacramento Food Co-op, who just gave us a micro-grant. Oh, and we’re launching a podcast series.” All in all, it’s a big job, handled by a staff of three, along with 9 or 10 instructors, and 38 volunteers, including 9 Ambassadors who help with events.
“Our program helps your body to shift back from being a cancer patient and gives you back ownership of your life. We stress power over your cancer even when you feel powerless.”