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About the Mountain Laurel Cancer Support and Resource Center


A diagnosis of cancer can be a frightening and traumatic experience for cancer patients and their families. People diagnosed with cancer are often confused about what to do, who to turn to, and what will happen to them. They and their families need a place to go for answers to the many questions that arise regarding cancer treatment, side effects, screening, prevention, coping, and other issues. At the Mountain Laurel Center, our vision is to satisfy this need by providing personalized cancer information and support services in a welcoming, private, community-based environment, offering holistic help.

Our Mission

Our mission at the Mountain Laurel Center is to expand community awareness of and education about cancer issues, and to enhance the quality of life of cancer patients, their family members, and caregivers by addressing their psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs related to the impact of a diagnosis of cancer.

Our Goals

To establish and maintain collaborative relationships and partnerships with local communities, other cancer centers, the medical community, and national, state, and local organizations. To be a responsible advocate for cancer issues impacting individuals in our community.

To provide current information on cancer, early detection, treatment, clinical trials, and other cancer issues using state-of-the-art resources in a culturally appropriate way.

To remove barriers for those in need of cancer screenings and treatment who are unable to access them for whatever reason.

To reduce
cancer incidence and mortality in our region by designing, implementing, and evaluating long-range, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, and community-wide cancer control outreach projects.

To provide
psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical support to persons with cancer and their families.

To provide
quality personal services to all at no cost in a welcoming environment.

To foster hope and self-empowerment today and in the future for those affected by cancer.


Located in the middle of central Appalachia, a local cancer control and awareness coalition has been meeting since 1992. This coalition was organized as a result of the Appalachian Leadership Initiative on Cancer, a National Institutes of Health funded research project. The coalition has grown steadily and now includes more than twenty-five area organizations, medical providers, and community groups, as well as volunteers and cancer survivors. Initially called CHALIC (Central Highlands Appalachian Leadership Initiative on Cancer), the coalition renamed itself the Mountain Laurel Cancer Support and Resource Center.

The Mountain Laurel Center serves Lee, Wise, and Scott counties, and the City of Norton in Virginia and is located in an area with a high incidence of cancer. The most disturbing statistic is the cancer mortality rate -- people in our region die from cancer at a much higher rate compared with the rest of the nation. Our region’s population meets the criteria of a “health disparity population” as defined by the Health Care Fairness Act. This is a definition used by the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Minority Health in defining the population it targets. The percentage of medically indigent persons in southwest Virginia is among the highest in the country.

Mountain Laurel Center Coalition Key Events: 1992-2006

1992 - CHALIC coalition formed for Lee, Scott, and Wise counties, Virginia.

1998 - Community story-gathering circles organized in local communities. Creation and performance of “Life’s Circle” from the compilation of community members’ stories began. CHALIC members attended The March: Coming Together to Conquer Cancer in Washington, DC.

1998-2001 - “Life’s Circle” performed at Virginia Department of Health conference and various regional locations.

1999-2000 - 1st and 2nd Annual Cancer Awareness Rally and March held in Norton, VA. Lenowisco CHALIC nominated for HOPE Volunteer Award in conjunction with the 7th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, The Medically Underserved & Cancer. Tri-State Collaborative Cancer Control Project formed and meetings held with CHALIC groups from TN, KY, and VA. Cancer Help computerized cancer information system purchased through a grant and housed at University of Virginia’s College at Wise. Vision, mission, goals, and list of services developed for Mountain Laurel Center. Cancer Help volunteers trained and system demonstrated throughout the planning district.