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Wheeling for Healing

Cyclist rides for sister, BFMC oncology dept.

  • Submitted Photo<br/><br/>Baystate Franklin Oncology nurse, Christine Bartus, RN, with patient Fern Spierer of Greenfield.

    Submitted Photo

    Baystate Franklin Oncology nurse, Christine Bartus, RN, with patient Fern Spierer of Greenfield.

  • New infusion chairs at Baystate Franklin Medical Center's Oncology Department. Funds raised through the Wheeling for Healing event was used to purchase the chairs this year.<br/><br/>Submitted photo

    New infusion chairs at Baystate Franklin Medical Center's Oncology Department. Funds raised through the Wheeling for Healing event was used to purchase the chairs this year.

    Submitted photo

  • Submitted Photo<br/><br/>Baystate Franklin Oncology nurse, Christine Bartus, RN, with patient Fern Spierer of Greenfield.
  • New infusion chairs at Baystate Franklin Medical Center's Oncology Department. Funds raised through the Wheeling for Healing event was used to purchase the chairs this year.<br/><br/>Submitted photo

GREENFIELD — Last summer, Sue Cohen of East Longmeadow cycled 50 miles throughout Greenfield to support her older sister who was stricken with lung cancer and getting treatment at Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

This summer, the avid cyclist will ride again, but this time it will be to honor her sister’s memory and the many doctors and nurses of the Oncology Department at the Greenfield hospital. Her sister, DeeDee Bergeron of Colrain, died on April 1.

Cohen will ride in Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s seventh annual Wheeling for Healing bike ride benefit on Aug. 24 to raise money for cancer programs and services at the hospital.

Registration is now open for the bike ride benefit, which starts and ends at the White Eagle Polish Picnic Grounds at 249 Plain Road.

“(The ride) is challenging, but it is nothing to what these patients go through. That’s what I kept thinking of last year,” Cohen said.

Cohen, whose younger sister is a cancer survivor, has participated in several charity races. This past May she completed the Coast to Coast to Cure Cancer ride. She has also finished the Pan Mass Challenge across the state.

“I always felt the need to get involved,” Cohen said. “I feel like I can never do enough to contribute.”

Each year, Wheeling for Healing raises money for the Oncology Department.

Last year, proceeds from Wheeling for Healing were used to buy new infusion chairs for patients undergoing chemotherapy at Baystate Franklin.

“Patients often spend a whole day with us — sometimes several days in a row — and many are coping with significant discomfort. Making sure that they have comfortable seating is critical,” said nurse Naomi Bolognani, manager of the Oncology Department, in a statement. “Our patients know, firsthand, what would help increase their comfort while in our unit, so we invited them to share their opinions on the chairs’ features, including the color of the upholstery.”

The department was also able to offer financial assistance to patients, covering some expenses — such as wigs and some medications — that were not covered by the patients’ health insurance, Bolognani said. The department also used Wheeling for Healing money to buy a new waiting room TV with a special CARE channel, so patients can enjoy calming views of scenes from nature, accompanied by soft, soothing music.

Fern Spierer of Greenfield is one patient who is benefiting from the new infusion chairs, which were installed in July.

She was diagnosed with leukemia in March and began treatment at Baystate Franklin in April.

With comfortable cushions and cup holders, the new recliner chairs have made her experience at the hospital better than it would have been sitting in an another chair for hours during treatment.

“They’re amazing. These new chairs are divine,” Spierer said.

This is Spierer’s second bout with cancer. In the 1990s, she was treated for breast cancer also at Baystate Franklin.

“I think the staff at Baystate Franklin is top-notch. They’re attentive, friendly and have great personalities,” Spierer said. “I had great care before. I came back here because I knew I’d have great care again.”

The bike ride requires a $40 registration fee — $20 for children 12 and under. It covers the ride, exhibits, barbecue lunch and live music by The Renegades following the ride.

Individuals who don’t wish to ride but would like to join the fun can attend the barbecue only for $25. Health New England is the sponsor for the event.

The event features four different courses for participants: a family-friendly 3-mile flat ride “around the block”; a local 10-mile route featuring the Greenfield Bike Trail; a moderate 25-mile ride through Bernardston, Gill and the Turners Falls and Greenfield bike trails; and a challenging 50-mile route that goes up into the hills of Warwick and Wendell. This event is not a race, and participants are encouraged to sign up for a course that matches their level of ability.

For more information or to register for or sponsor Wheeling for Healing, visit www.baystatehealth.org/wheelingforhealing, or call Baystate Health Foundation at 413-794-4288.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268 On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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