UA-8412995-1 The Southport Globe: CT Challenge Center’s message to cancer survivors: You are not alone

Thursday, January 31, 2013

CT Challenge Center’s message to cancer survivors: You are not alone

The brand-new CT Challenge Center for Survivorship in Southport is still a work in progress, but its message to cancer survivors is firm: You are not alone. Opened Oct. 1, the shiny new structure beams when the sun shines in through the massive windows. The center, touted as the first of its kind in the United States that is unaffiliated with any hospital, is the outcome of one survivor’s dream. A multitude of victories Jeff Keith of Fairfield, the co-founder of the CT Challenge along with John Ragland, and president, was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a malignant bone tumor, at the age of 12. Two weeks later, his right leg was amputated above the knee and he underwent a year and a half of chemotherapy. The fateful diagnosis was 38 years ago. Keith has since survived — and thrived, growing up to be captain of his high school ski team, an NCAA lacrosse goalie at Boston College, the recipient of an MBA from the University of Southern California, and a high-yield bond salesman for more than 18 years. He began his philanthropic pursuits just after college, when he became the first amputee to run across the United States. He covered 3,300 miles in nine month as tribute to Terry Fox, a cancer survivor who died while attempting to run across Canada.
The run across the United States raised more than $1 million, which Keith donated to the American Cancer Society. Keith also went on to become a husband to wife Karin, and father to their three children. He credits exercise and good nutrition with helping him overcome many of the side effects of his cancer treatments, which included some toxic drugs. He wanted to help give other cancer survivors a resource for learning how to empower themselves, and be supported emotionally and socially. The challenge begins In 2005, the CT Challenge was born with the mission of starting the first clinic in Connecticut for adult survivors of cancer. Mission accomplished. With close to $9 million raised — and 18 partners across the state — the dream is housed at 250 Pequot Avenue in Southport. Programming, however, began almost two years ago with an outreach program in Bridgeport, a 2006 partnership with Yale’s cancer center, a partnership with a breast cancer survivor center, and two support groups at the Fairfield Public Library. The support groups are now held at the new center, along with many other resources and activities for cancer survivors.

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