By Lori Szepelak
SPRINGFIELD Sister Madeleine Joy, S.P., N.A.C.C., has been a guiding light for many area residents over the years through Mercy Medical Center’s weekly cancer support group.
Joy, currently celebrating her 50th jubilee with the Sisters of Providence in Holyoke, is being assisted by a committee as well as the extra efforts of Elsa Salvador, a volunteer in Fund Development, to ensure that the annual Gift of Light campaign is a success since it helps offset the cost of Mercy’s cancer support groups.
A special tree-lighting ceremony is planned Dec. 5 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Mercy’s patient registration area to kick off the Gift of Light campaign. A majestic pine tree in the courtyard will also be lit as part of the festivities. Brenda Garton will host the festive affair, along with her husband John Sjoberg, chairperson of Mercy’s Foundation Board.
“The Gift of Light is a heartwarming opportunity to brighten the spirit of those who have felt the sadness and darkness of cancer in their lives,” Sjoberg said during an interview with Reminder Publications. “As a healing and transforming presence in the community, the Sisters of Providence Health System (SPHS) offers a beautiful way to remember and honor our loved ones during the holiday season. The proceeds support the programs that give comfort to families and friends throughout the year.”
The Sisters of Providence sponsor the SPHS, which includes Mercy Medical Center on Carew Street.
Joy echoed the sentiments of Sjoberg.
“The tree-lighting ceremony reminds us of the important work we do throughout the year to help people who are living with cancer and their families,” she said.
She is a certified chaplain who works countless hours at the hospital, as well as administers services at the Farren Care Center in Turners Falls. Farren is also a member of the SPHS.
Mercy offers a weekly Cancer Support Group that meets Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m., facilitated by Joy, and a Cancer Caregiver Support Group that meets the second Monday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m., facilitated by Lynn Cochran.
“The Cancer Support Group provides information and education for people who are living with a cancer diagnosis, as well as for family members and caregivers,” Joy said. “We offer compassion and support during what is often a very difficult time.”
Joy added that the support groups provide a safe environment in which individuals can express their fears, concerns, questions, struggles and successes.
Following the ceremony and remarks by Dan Moen, president and CEO, SPHS, refreshments will be provided, and Madeline Lukomski of the Dan Kane Singers will perform several holiday tunes. The event is free and open to the public.
“The campaign centers around the sale of lights for the holiday tree at Mercy,” Joy said, noting that one light is $10, four lights are $35 and six lights are $50.
“Lights can be purchased to honor those in your life who have been touched by cancer,” she added.
Light purchases are tax-deductible and can be made by calling Jeanne Hough in Fund Development at 748-9936.
Also, donations can be made in person at the Mercy Rx in the hospital’s lobby, or can be mailed to a Gift of Light, Fund Development Department, 271 Carew St., Springfield, MA 01104. Checks should be made payable to “The Cancer Support Group.”
For persons who wish to have their honoree included in the lighting ceremony, the light or lights need to be purchased prior to Nov. 28.
Those attending the ceremony will also have an opportunity to purchase special Yankee Candle votives for $2, as well as 24K gold plated page markers for $9 with the Gift of Light logo of Mercy’s Cancer Support Group. The page marker artwork represents the light in each and every individual who faces the challenge of cancer with the flicker and shadows they cast with resiliency, hope and energy, Joy said. The candles and page markers will also be available during the holidays at Mercy’s Gift Shop.
“Every dollar you give supports and sustains the cancer support groups at Mercy,” she added.
The evening will culminate with an opportunity for visitors to write a personal message about a loved one who has battled cancer on a beautifully designed display board, which will remain in Mercy’s lobby for the entire holiday season.
“What brings me the greatest joy in my life is serving people in need,” Joy said. “Seeing individuals prioritize what’s really most important in life – relationships with others and the precious gift of time – always brings me comfort.”
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