Our Story Why We Exist
No one has to face cancer alone.
“From the moment you walk through the door, there’s just an overwhelming feeling of knowing you’re safe, you’re not alone, you’re with people who totally get it.”
“Wellspring Calgary helped me to climb out of hopelessness. I learned how to take charge of my situation and reach a place of peace and acceptance out of hopelessness... I cannot express in mere words how much this means to me. It has meant my life.”
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating. It brings countless life-altering moments and events for people who receive the diagnosis and for those who love them. People with cancer are compelled to find a new ‘normal’ before, during, and after treatment. Priorities shift, relationships change, life is... different.
At Wellspring, people living with cancer tell us what helps them the most - having access to information, receiving support, and learning new ways to cope. They also tell us the cancer journey has two roads: medical and emotional.
Albertans have excellent medical resources to fight cancer, but people who have cancer need so much more than medical care. Individuals and their loved ones often have difficulty finding the emotional, psychological and practical support they so urgently require.
In Calgary, only Wellspring devotes itself exclusively to the unique non-medical needs that cancer presents. The Wellspring Calgary community of support provides a vital complement to medical treatment. Wellspring helps heal the body, mind, and spirit. It is a place where people with cancer, their families and friends can exchange information, develop a support system and create a sense of hope, in a warm, caring and welcoming atmosphere.
The beautiful, uplifting surroundings make Wellspring Calgary accessible and extraordinary. Programs and services take place at two locations. In the north, Carma House, a warm and welcoming 4500 square foot home, nestled in trees on a lot meters from the Bow River. Large windows provide views of hills across the water and tranquil woods, and it is minutes from the walking paths by the river. In October 2016, a second leased location opened behind the Blackfoot Inn. Ample parking and a welcoming environment provide easier access to the same programs for those living in south Calgary and area.
Wellspring charges no fees. Programs are available free to anyone coping with any type of cancer at any stage. Programs include individual and group support, coping skills, expressive therapies, energy work, educational workshops and presentations. A lending resource library provides a range of information on the social, emotional and psychological aspects of cancer.
Wellspring receives no core government or United Way funding. Programs and operations are made possible through the generous donations of our community.
To understand how our programs make a difference - see some of Wellspring member's comments on our YOUTUBE channel.
Our Impact What We Do
OUR MISSION | Wellspring Calgary is a warm and welcoming community that provides a comprehensive range of support, resources and programs so anyone living with cancer and the people who care about them can improve the quality of their lives.
OUR VISION | No one has to face cancer alone.
Wellspring Calgary addresses the body-mind-spirit needs that result from a cancer diagnosis and its treatment. For those diagnosed, their caregivers and loved ones. We provide over 26,000 hours of program delivery and resources annually at no charge to our members. We currently have a membership of over 4,000 people, welcoming over 500 people annually through our doors. We are supported by 175 volunteers who donate over 10,000 hours of volunteer time annually.
OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS | The Calgary Stampede Western Legacy Awards recognized Wellspring Calgary founders for Innovation (see story from Calgary Herald). This award recognizes a person or group creating a single visionary project that speaks to western values. We are included in the orientation at Tom Baker Cancer Centre for those newly diagnosed.
WHAT WE DO | Wellspring Calgary is a unique resource that responds to a specific, recognized and growing need which had been unmet until we opened our doors: the need for resources and support that address the social, emotional and other practical needs people face when they are living with cancer. Helping people live as well as possible with cancer and respond to life’s challenges is what Wellspring Calgary does best. Staff, facilitators and volunteers understand the social, emotional and practical consequences of cancer and its treatments on those diagnosed and those who love them. Wellspring has a distinctive approach to the overall support of individuals: helping people to restore the dignity and control they so often lose when faced with a cancer diagnosis, offering a community of support, a safe place where people can connect with others who understand this journey.
“Patients for whom emotional distress remains unresolved are five times more likely to use community health services, twice as likely to visit emergency departments, more likely to receive expensive third- and fourth-line chemotherapy and place higher demands on scarce provider time. Emotional and psychological support programs save healthcare resources.” [Dr. Margaret Fitch, head, Oncology Nursing and Supportive Care, Odette cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “ Supportive Care Rebalancing Efforts” pp 144-145.]
WHAT IS NEEDED | We know that our current medical system cannot support all needs of all people currently living with cancer. One in two Albertans will face cancer in their lifetime; of the two, the other one will be supporting the one diagnosed, so both will be “living with” cancer. Annually nearly 16,000 Albertans will be diagnosed with cancer – about 43 people each day. Of those diagnosed, 10,000 will survive their cancer and may request access to programs, resources and support that will improve the quality of their lives during and after their treatment. Wellspring Calgary is a vital support. Working synergistically with our medical colleagues and other cancer-related organizations, Wellspring Calgary can uniquely respond to the unmet and important needs of those living with cancer.
Our programs and resources provide the opportunity for individuals to explore health, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and much more. Members often express the benefit of Wellspring Calgary, not only in their own life, but describe it as being influential within their family, workplace, and community.
Our Programs How We Do It
Wellspring Calgary provides programs under specific pillars of support:
- Core / Educational (Brain Fog, Returning to Work, Healing Journey, Money Matters, public Speaker Series sessions)
- Movement & Meditation (Yoga, Tai Chi, Dance, Exercise, Visualization, Mindful Mountain Hiking)
- Expressive Arts (storytelling in all artistic mediums: creative arts, oral, written, music, photography, film-making)
- Caregiving / Self Care (peer support, care for the caregiver, Thursdays with Bob Glasgow)
Programs are both drop-in (limited) and pre-registered. Class sizes are small to facilitate group discussions and sharing and peer to peer learning, support and sharing. To learn about our programs click on the link to our Programs brochure.
“I am not alone...” is one of the most often repeated phrases we hear from members. The sense of community and the strength people derive from fellowship and friendship is a key factor in our group programs. With one in two Albertans facing a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, Wellspring Calgary can be a crucial step in the journey. Through our centre of support, we provide programs supporting the body, mind, and spirit. We address the psycho-social and emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis, provide benefits from practical supports in response to needs arising outside of the medical realm, and help people cope (individually and as families) with their diagnosis and beyond treatment. Wellspring Calgary also provides a child minding service so parents and families can take part in our programs.
Through our programs, support and resources, Wellspring Calgary:
- provides comprehensive quality programming informed by evidence for those diagnosed with cancer, their families and caregivers by trained facilitators, experts in their field.
- provides practical information on cancer to assist individuals in their health care journey;
- collaborates with health care professionals on the application of positive research results and collaborates on research endeavors intended to promote quality of life and longevity;
- connects and informs individuals, families, caregivers, and the wider community through resources, newsletters, knowledgeable speakers, and e-mail;
- offers the opportunity to connect with trained peer volunteers who are able to provide a listening ear and support,
- fosters enhanced communication between those diagnosed, caregivers, and health care providers by providing a forum for observation, participation, and presentations for and by health care professionals; and,
- supports the ongoing wellness of cancer survivors, by offering them continued education, training, and a venue to support others who are going through a similar experience.
All our programs and resources provide the support people with any type of cancer need and seek at any stage of their cancer journey.
Our Requests What You Can Do
We appreciate the support of our community partners, sponsors and volunteers who help Wellspring Calgary to further our mission and offer services to our members free of charge. We simply couldn't do it without you! You can donate, volunteer, or maybe host your own event in support of Wellspring! Or join one of our ongoing annual events - learn more by clicking here.
We are embarking on a substantial growth campaign to reach more Calgarians and southern Albertans with the unique resources only provided by Wellspring Calgary programs. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Director of Philanthropy, Suzan Valenta, at email@example.com or call 403-521-5292 ext 306.