Dr. Brooke Worster, director for supportive medicine at Jefferson Health's Kimmel Cancer Center, says cancer and the coronavirus have attacked her patients in more ways than one.
“The side effects of COVID have been devastating. They're losing their jobs, their health insurance. They’re having trouble putting groceries on the table for their families,” she said.
Her work with cancer patients doesn’t stop when she leaves the center; she also volunteers with Philadelphia nonprofit Legacy of Hope to pick up and deliver groceries to cancer patients, who are immunocompromised.
“That felt like a really easy sort of thing, to be able to take my husband and my children with me and say, guys let's get the things to the patients we know really need them,” she said.
Over the years, the organization has provided help to dozens of cancer patients with their housing and utility bills. But with a statewide freeze on evictions and utility turnoffs, their resources are now going to help another problem.
“We focused almost entirely on grocery deliveries since the pandemic has started,” said organization CEO Michael Rowe.
Rowe says they're servicing close to 100 families in Philadelphia each month, and many of these families already had financial trouble before the pandemic. Getting the groceries, he says, helps more than just a strained financial situation.
“For someone who's immunocompromised, it could be a death sentence,” he said.
William Peoples, one of the patients recovering from leukemia who needs those groceries, says going outside his home puts him at risk. his program has been a lifeline in his time of need, and he wants to pay it forward when he's healthy.
“Knowing that I had this foundation that had my back, is just tremendous. It's the reason I'll be volunteering whenever they need me,” he said.
Rowe says they are currently working to expand Legacy of Hope to help people in other cities.