The latest monthly meeting of the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund (TDJBCF) was dedicated to a discussion of the needs of physically disabled patients who are also cancer survivors, and addressing the difficulties of navigating the medical and support system from a wheelchair. There are many things able-bodied people take for granted when it comes to having mammograms and wellness check-ups.

The meeting featured a panel including Linda C. Brown, a caretaker of an adult autistic and physically disabled daughter, and herself a breast cancer survivor and advocate; Sheri Denkensohn-Trott, breast cancer survivor, advocate and co-founder of Happy-on-Wheels, an organization that helps and advocates for the physically disabled; and Saundria Stokes Jackson, a disabled breast cancer survivor and advocate.

Denkensohn-Trott talked about having to deal with being a quadriplegic since the age of 16, when she suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident. There have been many advances in facilitating the needs of disabled people, but there are still problems dealing with the various individual cases, and the way in which medical facilities handle and address these issues.

Stokes Jackson also spoke about some of the difficulties encountered when traveling. She pointed out from personal experience the trauma that can occur when being transferred from a wheelchair to an airplane seat, and getting on and off a plane. Brown gave her views on taking care of a person with severe autism who is also paralyzed, and in need of round-the-clock care.

Opening and closing remarks were made by the group’s founder, Thelma D. Jones. Moderator for the event was Regina Blye, MPAff, Project Officer, Community Living/Independent Living Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Welcoming remarks were offered by Kimberly Beer, Director of Public Policy at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Beer advocates for the needs of those with living with paralysis and spinal cord injury through advancing legislative and advocacy on Capitol Hill and through various federal agencies.

The meeting was well attended by persons who are breast cancer survivors, their caregivers and friends. It wrapped up with a Thanksgiving buffet dinner and a raffle for door prizes. A special thanks goes to Christ United Methodist Church who graciously hosted the group. The TDJBCF support group meets monthly at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on the SW Waterfront, unless otherwise specified.

By Elisabeth Brown

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