By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Hope is sometimes hard to grasp when battling cancer, but one group of determined individuals is doing everything to change that and in doing so, change the lives of all affected by cancer.
The Cancer Support Group at Zion Lutheran Church, 439 Third Ave. South, offers those affected by cancer a place to learn and bond with others who can relate.
“People need hope, it’s about leaning on each other, sharing stories, questions and coping,” Pastor Jen Henry said.
Whether you are battling cancer, helping a spouse deal with the challenge or a survivor, all are welcome to attend the cancer support group that meets the third Monday of every month. This is the only cancer support group in Clinton, stemming from a similar group offered by Mercy Medical Center several years ago.
Guest speakers from a wide array of medical and support backgrounds offer advice and hope to the group. Nursing Coordinator Marla Naeve and Oncology Nurse Cheryl Holsinger, both from Medical Associates, led the discussion at a meeting on Monday.
“If you have not been affected by cancer, you will be,” Naeve, also a breast cancer survivor said. “This is such a great resource for our community.”
Upcoming speakers include Director of Clinical Development Kamalini Kumar and Oncology Nurse Beth Wirth, both from Mercy Medical Center.
While Zion Lutheran Church hosts the group, members need not belong to the church. No matter the type or stage of cancer, all can learn from the gathering. For some it serves as a family, when their own is lost.
“In a year and a half, we have had three people from the group who have died,” Henry said. “The group offered hope and a place to talk about that. Some of the spouses even came back.”
With topics ranging from how to break the news of a terminal illness to friends and family to dealing with everyday life, the monthly meetings offer emotional, medical and educational support. When Francie Hill heard about the group, she was eager to learn more.
After being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma three and a half years ago, Hill was looking for answers. This rare form of cancer constitutes less than one percent of all cancers. Despite the odds, she made a point to not let the illness take over.
“I made a commitment to not be ashamed and I decided I wasn’t going to hide,” Hill said. “The key to the group is that we don’t bemoan our problems. We are there to learn.”
Hill is currently undergoing a clinical trial for treatment and has been responding very well.
“Hope is contagious and I get it from them as much as I pass back,” Henry said. “This deals with deep illness, a whole different kind of bond.”
The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. March 18. For more information call Henry at 242-7391.