Cancer dietary initiative lauded

STEUBENVILLE — It was approximately five years ago the Dr. Pervais Rahman, medical director for medical oncology with Trinity Health System, and his son Harris, began a project to serve community members.

Rahman noted that many cancer patients were losing weight at a time when cancer treatments should not have been impacting them. At the same time, Harris needed to complete a community service project and wanted to make an impact on the community.

Combining both of their needs, they decided to assist patients for six months with their dietary needs. They identified a dozen patients in the need and, working out of the lobby of the Tony Teramana Cancer Center, started the Cancer Dietary Initiative, a food pantry for Tony Teramana Cancer patients.

Donated items were provided on a monthly basis.

Presently, the Cancer Dietary Initiative has its own designation as a nonprofit organization. Due to the overwhelming response, the program has continued and recently celebrated its five-year anniversary, according to officials.

Due to its growth, the pantry was relocated to the First Westminster Presbyterian Church in the former food pantry space there.

After numerous requests, the cancer center’s board of directors decided to better serve community needs and opened the pantry to all area cancer patients, regardless of their age or where they are receiving treatments, as long as a referral from a physician is received. There are no financial limitations, officials noted.

The third Saturday of every month patients are given a supply of food items they can prepare at home. The patients have shown improvements in their recovery, and the program continues to expand, according to Rahman, who also is assisted by Dr. John Hyland, radiation oncologist.

Many times the patients are surprised to see that Rahman and Hyland are assisting with the distribution.

The CDI operates on donations of food and money, as well as grants, and Trinity Health System officials have conducted several food drives to assist the patients.

The CDI can be contacted by calling (740) 264-7543.