I spent most of 2008 undergoing cancer treatment. I tell people that during that time I was sliced, diced, pickled and fried. You know, to tell you the truth, I think that is a pretty accurate description of cancer treatment.
I was very fortunate. My husband was with me every step of the way. He was fortunate enough to have an employer who permitted you to rollover your sick days each year and you could use them to care for family members as well. He had accumulated hundreds of hours and he was able to go with me to appointments, chemo infusions and even adjust his hours so he could go in while I was still fast asleep,work five hours a day and get home in time for lunch. This meant I was only home alone for a few hours every day. That was good because I had chemo every two weeks instead of the three weeks most breast cancer survivors haveand also dealt with some very unpleasant side-effects.
In addition to this, I belonged to a large church that had the resources to provide some wonderful support in a variety of ways. Then of course, I also had the support of family and friends. Plus, I had joined CB in July 2007. I will always be grateful to the wonderful people who prayed for and encouraged me while I was going through cancer treatment.
From the medical perspective, I had an outstanding oncologist, excellent health insurance and the hospital where I received my treatment had a nurse navigator assigned to their cancer patients. She ran our support group and helped bring sense into our world that was spinning out of control. On the day I had surgery, she met me and was with me during all of the prep, walked me up to same day surgery and was with me and my husband making sure that everything was taken care of. We didn't have to worry about anything. It was wonderful. She truly was a "navigator".
One of the things I discovered though was that a lot of people dealing with cancer or any chronic illness either lacked support or they were not getting the type of support many of them needed. Surprisingly, many of those people are Christians. Many churches are poorly equiped to deal with long-term problems and while we can and should pray, the person dealing with chronic problems often needs to have a support network, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. They need to be able to express their fears and challenges without fear of being condemned for being sick. They need to know that they are loved and also... they are not alone. Chronic health issues really do make you feel vulnerable and afraid. "Feeling" a human hand wrapped around yours really does make you feel better.
In December 2008, CB introduced groups. Right away I knew that I needed to start a group for people with chronic illness. It quickly expanded to include those who dealt with mental health issues as well as conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and so forth. Since my own father began his own battle with chronic illness before I was born, I was well aware of the need to support family members as well so the group expanded yet again. It was a very active group.Unfortunately, due to a variety of problems, the group feature was discontinued several years ago and Survivors Group had to be disbanded... officially that is!
I am very pleased to announce that as of today, the Survivors Group is activated once again. It is a private group where people who deal with chronic issues can meet others who are doing the same and love and support each other. Yes, there are tears as we face challenges but there is also a lot of love, encouragement, laughter and understanding. If you or someone you love faces chronic health issues, I'd like to invite you to join us.
Let me say in all honesty CB would be, as a group much poorer without K input, encouragement, blogs, friendship, willingness - I appreciate you K your hus. is a lucky man. Thanks for the work in setting up your groups - use blokes are way behind.