A cancer diagnosis and the treatment that follows is a lot for anyone to handle, but young mothers with cancer face especially unique challenges. Long Islanders should know that there is support and assistance available for women with breast cancer and other cancers, and one organization offering it is Genevieve’s Helping Hands.
After Long Island native Genevieve Rickmeyer Sounia died of an aggressive form of breast cancer weeks before her 35th birthday, her loved ones banded together to give back in her name and formed the Hicksville, New York- and Pinehurst, North Carolina-based charity group. Its main focuses are providing grants to mothers younger than 40 for a place to stay after a cancer operation, and running a healthy eating program.
“When she passed, I knew immediately what the charity was going to be: to provide these grants to give extra time to heal away from the home,” says Anne Rickmeyer, Sounia’s mother and president of Genevieve’s Helping Hands.
The organization derived its name from Lotsa Helping Hands, a care coordination website that Sounia used to tap into her support system while she was sick. She received overwhelming help from it, and her loved ones wanted to “keep all the good things going” after her death, said Rickmeyer.
The Genevieve Memorial Breast Cancer Recovery Grant has been given to more than 70 young moms in nearly every state in the country, including three on Long Island, since 2014.
“It’s wherever the mom wants,” Rickmeyer says. “Sometimes it’s near the hospital, sometimes near the home, and we provide transportation for their kids to visit.
“Most moms use it after surgery, although we’ve awarded grants for many purposes,” she adds. “If a mom is stage 4, it’s called a Respite Grant and offers the same features.”
The nonprofit also gives care packages to the moms during their recovery. Rickmeyer noted that donations for the boxes are always welcome.
In addition, Genevieve’s Helping Hands offers free Fresh Foods for Families demonstrations by a natural foods chef, which was born out of Sounia’s passion for healthy eating.
The organization will be walking at the annual breast cancer walk at Jones Beach on Oct. 16. For more information, visit genshelpinghands.org.