What happens when you are faced with the unthinkable: A cancer diagnosis? Knowing what comes next – doctors, treatments, difficult choices – is, to put it simply, scary for everyone. It's all too easy for patients, family and caregivers alike to feel overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. And while you may be embarking on a specific treatment plan, what about the rest of your life?

The Cancer Support Center is devoted to helping those with cancer, along with their family members and caregivers, work through this complicated, difficult time and improve their overall quality of life by providing a wide network of support systems. All of their services are free to every client, and all of them are provided by professionals in a warm, comforting, nurturing environment. Serving more than 60 communities, the Center offers services from licensed, professional staff: Psychologists, counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, nutritionists, certified yoga and massage therapists. It also offers many opportunities for group support, where clients can gather in a therapeutic, relaxed environment.

The Center's Knit and Crochet and Dog Therapy programs are great examples of their approach. The Knit and Crochet group offers clients the chance to gather and work independently on their knitting projects, offering a chance to share stories and relate with others who are on their cancer journey. The Dog Therapy program, open to clients of all ages, brings canine pals and clients together for mutual cuddling, love and relaxation. The certified therapy dogs offer pure, non judgemental affection, and they're a unique and special part of the Center's offerings.

Since the Center relies on individual donors, as well as grants from businesses, religious institutions and government agencies to help keep their doors open, they wouldn’t be able to operate without widespread community support. Art Van is a key component of that support. Thanks to their involvement, both in their own donations and in matching individual gifts, the Center is able to continue offering its vital services. Sue Armato, Executive Director, explains the Center's special relationship with Art Van: "The Center is grateful for our incredible partnership with Art Van. Their support and friendship are very generous. Seeing the value of our work and how it directly supports those living with cancer and its difficulties will be recognized by those residents of Chicago's Southland communities, making Art Van not only a partner with the Center but with our community supporters as well."

The Center's holistic approach has so many benefits to their clients: Reduced depression, better communication with their medical team and better compliance with treatment, plus general improvement of health, thanks to improved nutrition, exercise and reduced stress. In 2013, the Center served more than 8,300 individuals, helping them navigate the choppy waters of a cancer diagnosis. They hope to continue working with even more clients in the future, says Armato. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with Art Van in the years to come." Learn more about the Cancer Support Center at cancersupportcenter.org.