At noon, October 28th, 2014, Mary Crevey and I met Fred Ducan, Director and CEO, and Tanya Shelburne, Vice-President of Program Development of The Little Red Door. The Little Red Door, founded in 1945, offers a variety of free services including screening and detection, education, client navigation and transportation for over 7500 medically underserved Indianapolis residents living with cancer. Both Fred and Tanya embody the Little Red Door’s slogan, “making the most out of life and the least out of cancer.” Their enthusiasm for life and their passion for their mission is immediately felt. They are committed to help their clients expand beyond the boundary of fear associated with cancer to overcome their uncertainties and live life more richly.
The Little Red Door provides wigs, hats and turbans to cancer patients who have lost their hair. Once inside The Little Red Door Boutique, housed within the agency’s office, one sits in a movie-star like dressing room complete with over-stuffed chairs, an illuminated make-up table, and bookshelves filled with wigs in every color, length and style of hair. At first, I stood in the Boutique imaging which fashion wig would look good on me. Then, I wondered how well I would overcome my fears of loosing my hair if I were ever one of the many women who will come to this boutique. Could I acknowledge the strangeness it would feel to wear a wig or a turban? Would I be able to overcome cancer and live more richly? I know I could, if I had the support of the committed and compassionate staff of the Little Red Door or another like-minded agency.
Director Fred Duncan enthusiastically explained The Little Red Door’s recent Door to Wellness Program. On the second floor of their building, they now offer free of cost yoga for cancer classes and therapeutic massages for people living with cancer, caregivers and medical providers. Director Duncan’s dream is to expand the Door to Wellness program to provide a variety of free workshops to promote healthy living, and cancer prevention through creativity, movement, and education.
The core missions of the Little Red Door, The Red & Orange House Foundation and Riley Children’s Foundation are very similar. We are all committed to helping to improve the lives of people living with illness, their loved ones and health care professionals. An absorbing conversation connected us even more. We share the mutual belief that engagement in the arts can lead individuals to assess what is valuable by inviting then to re-think old beliefs about living with illness and to experiment with alternative ways to find new insights and meanings during a crucial time in one’s life.