What defines a “survivor?” is a question that seems fitting today as people across the nation begin the observance of Breast Cancer Awareness month throughout October.
For patients at the Susan O’Brien Fischer Cancer Center located in the Canon Cancer Center at Bothwell Regional Health Center, the answer to the question is that it is, ”More about focusing on the fight, not the fright.”
The Center, focuses on a holistic approach in treating multiple forms of cancer including breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States other than skin cancer, according information provided by the American Cancer Society.
“In April of this year, we started a support group, High Hopes Cancer Support, as a way to help patients, their families and caregivers cope with cancer and their diagnosis,” Cathy Harrison, receptionist at the Cancer Center said. “We wanted to provide patients with a venue to share stories and voice their concerns with others who are going through similar circumstances.
“We want them to know that the whole Center is about them and what they need, and especially what can we do to help them through their experience,” she added. “We want them to be able to see and talk to someone who has made it over the summit or is on the journey so they know that it not insurmountable.”
The group meets at 4:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month and is open to anyone.
Dr. Matt Triplett, oncologist/hematologist at Bothwell has been a speaker at the support group and has seen the benefits of the group.
“I believe that community in a general sense is one of the most basic human needs in order to be happy and healthy, even when things are going well,” Triplett said. ” When times of crisis arise, the reserves of strength and love we can draw upon from our community can make all the difference.
“When it comes to cancer, groups like High Hopes can bring people with one unifying experience together and allow them to share what they have learned in their individual struggle, to everyone’s benefit.” he added. “This can be crucial especially for those people who do not have a strong network of family or friends when the cancer diagnosis enters their lives.”
The network and bond of friendship is one of the most important elements to the program Harrison said.
“We are a close-knit group but we welcome everyone who wants to share their story because there is strength in their words,” Harrison said. “Some who have attended have completed their treatment and want to give back and tell their stories of survival.
“Others are visitors from out of town, who have told us that we are the closest support group that they can find,” she added. “There is such healing in groups and a great deal of warmth and understanding in our discussions.”
While there is a series of programs scheduled, Harrison said organizers are open to ideas from those who attend meetings, patients, and survivors.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate — it affects so many people and their loved ones; they travel to and from treatments and the treatments themselves cut into their schedules and their lives,” Harrison added. “I feel very strongly and passionately, as we all do here at the Cancer Center, that we are here to offer our help and support.”
For more information on the High Hopes Cancer Support Group, call 660-829-7792 or visit www.brhc.org.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.