Dennis Ittenbach works with a patient at his H.O.P.E. rehabilitation center.

Here is a startling statistic of which I was not aware: According to Cancer Research UK, one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime.

The good news is that cancer survival rates continue to rise. The not-so-good news is that many of these survivors, often called “thrivers,” will experience some form of physical impairment from the disease after being cured – impairments that might not show up until years later.

Dennis Ittenbach, a board-certified lymphedema therapist, is the founder of H.O.P.E. (Helping Oncology Patients Enjoy) Life Lymphedema & Rehabilitation Center. This physical therapy practice focuses primarily on post-cancer therapies.

We are extremely fortunate to have this center here in the Lowcountry. It is the only private practice oncology and lymphedema physical therapy clinic in South Carolina.

The idea for the rehab center came to Dennis 20 years ago, when his wife was treated for breast cancer. He realized that the medical community concentrates on treating the cancer, but not the long-term impairments that can result from its treatment.

“Patients experience physical impairment and physical degradation during treatment and then they are left on their own once they are ‘cured’,”, Dennis said. “Doctors focus on saving lives, but not on their patients’ quality of life after treatment.” 

Dennis’s drive to provide compassionate care has been rewarded with glowing reviews from his patients and accolades from civic organizations. However, he wanted to do more, so he established a nonprofit arm of his clinic, the H.O.P.E. Life Cancer Recovery Fund, to provide wellness services, all free of charge, that are not available elsewhere for people touched by cancer. This includes exercise classes, nutrition education, support groups, prosthetic information and procurement, cosmetic education and pre-surgery workshops.

H.O.P.E. Life Cancer Recovery Fund is a fund of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, which serves as the fund’s 501(c)(3). In this role, the Community Foundation provides administrative support. Most importantly, it provides an easy way for Dennis to fulfill his passion of giving back. “I couldn’t do this without the help of the Community Foundation; they’ve been a godsend,” he said. “Working with them allows me to focus on the actual services and not all the paperwork.”

One hundred percent of the money raised for H.O.P.E. Life Cancer Recovery Fund, primarily through fundraisers like Save the Ta-Tas Tennis Tournament or Pickle for the Prostate Pickleball Tournament, both tentatively scheduled for January 2021, goes to pay for wellness services. Additionally, interested donors can make a gift through the Community Foundation at cflowcountry.civicore.com/HOPELifeCancerRecoveryFund.

With the help of the Community Foundation, Dennis made his vision a reality. We are glad we can support passions that support our communities.

Do you have a passion to give back? We can help. Give us a call at 843-681-9100.

Jackie Rosswurm, Ph.D. is the interim president and CEO  at Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.