Sherry Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer seven months ago, and she immediately turned to her neighbor Juanita Cantrell for support.
Cantrell faced the same battle less than 10 years ago.
Both Jackson and Cantrell are among a group of women who gather the third Monday of every month as part of the Breast Cancer Support Group through Sampson Regional Medical Center. This group offers support in an informal setting and allows patients to learn more about their diagnosis and how to cope with the physical and mental aspects of the disease.
“There is just a feeling of closeness that is found through the group,” Cantrell said at a gathering for the support group members.
Robin Palmer and Kristy Bland, both with the marketing department at SRMC, recently invited the support group out for brunch, as a way of honoring and recognizing those who are currently fighting the breast cancer battle or have survived the diagnosis.
“We want each of you to be bold, be fearless and be a survivor,” Palmer noted.
Cantrell said she was diagnosed in 2009 with Stage 1 breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. In March 2017, Jackson found a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer. As neighbors, Jackson said she knew Cantrell had been through the same diagnosis just years before, and sought advice from her friend.
“I had chemotherapy and surgery,” Jackson explained to the group. “I am doing well now. I found a lot of support through this group. Once you find out you have cancer and you start the process to treat it, you become a survivor.”
While Jackson may be new to the support group, members like Sandy Weikert and Farrell Carter have been coming to for years. Carter was diagnosed in 1999 and just one year afterwards, her friend Weikert was diagnosed.
“When I received my diagnosis, I immediately called my best friend, Farrell,” Weikert said. “Even though things were different, and we didn’t undergo the same treatment, she was there for me.”
Through the Breast Cancer Support group, both Weikert and Carter say they have made many friends.
“We laugh together, and cry together,” Carter shared. “This is a wonderful group of ladies who are experiencing some of the same things.”
For those members who are unable to come out, and for those who have been diagnosed, but are unaware of the support group, Weiker said there is Reach to Recovery, where members go out into the public and reach out to breast cancer patients and survivors.
“All of us are here for each other,” Weikert explained. “Whether there are two or 20, we feel like we make a difference.”
Nevada Hobbs was attending her first meeting last week and celebrating her one-year recovery anniversary, as well. Looking for somewhere to go and someone to talk to, Hobbs said she turned to the support group.
“I am doing great,” Hobbs said. “I’m a survivor and blessed to be alive and well.”
Like Weikert and Carter, Denise McLamb has been attending meeting since her diagnosis in March 2012. As a five-year survivor, McLamb said she wants to be there for anyone who is going through what she experienced.
“Being a part of the group allows me to have people to talk to and ask questions,” McLamb said.
Throughout the month of October, the Gristmill Restaurant is showing their support of breast cancer awareness by using pink coffee cups. Patrons are being served from the pink mugs that were donated through the hospital.
“We wanted to show our support of those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and those who are survivors of breast cancer,” Jami Tyler, co-owner of The Gristmill Restaurant, said.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.