HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all of us and on organizations, including those like the American Cancer Society, supporting cancer survivors like Lakysha Laing and their families.
“Every day, I'm so thankful for being here,” Laing told News 3.
“I went through chemo, eight sessions of chemotherapy, as well as 30 sessions of radiation treatment, five days a week for a couple of months,” she said. “I always said to myself, ‘If I can make it out of the bed, I was having an amazing day.'"
Now in remission, she credits her faith, family, friends and resources from the American Cancer Society. She said events, like the group’s breast cancer walk, helped in her journey.
“It pointed me in the right direction,” Laing said. “It was a way for me to pay it forward.”
But in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the American Cancer Society through events and fundraising.
“We're looking at about a $200 million fundraising deficit this year because of the pandemic,” Melissa Roof, Senior Manager for Community Development in the American Cancer Society Hampton Roads market said.
The pandemic also put on hold the Road to Recovery program, where volunteer drivers give patients rides to and from treatment.
“It's much more than just a ride, it's also a support network,” Domenick Casuccio, Director of Communications for the Virginia area of American Cancer Society said. “Some of our drivers really build a real relationship with those cancer patients.”
But during the pandemic, Casuccio said their top resource has been their phone number and website, along with setting up video calls and online video chats.
“Many cancer patients were isolated because they weren't coming in for treatment to keep them safe, because they do have compromised immune systems,” he said. “People can have that personal connection just beyond a phone call with us, and really talk face to face.”
It also made them shift and pivot to digital events.
“With Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, coming up right around the corner, that's going virtual,” Roof said. “We're still encouraging teams to sign up for our event and fundraise, and then will have a virtual celebration.”
Laing said she plans on taking part in the event that’s scheduled for October 18.
“We're going to be socially-distanced, and we're actually going to walk a park in support of the walk,” she said. “So, we're finding creative ways to participate.”
Organizers told News 3 they need the support now more than ever.
“Even though we can't come together, COVID-19 isn't going to be forever,” Casuccio said. “We're going to get through this pandemic, and we're still going to have a cancer fight ahead of us.”