a haven of strength and hope for over 20 years
Walking the Line Between Hope and Fear
Dear Friends and Members of Cancer Connection’s Community,

In my 30’s I went for my first mammogram. What excitement I felt. Excited to take one more test that would confirm I was in good health. A test that would establish a baseline to track my breast health as I aged. Well…the unexpected happened. A cancer diagnosis. I had expected the best; the worst news was offered. But I was not alone. The hospital offered me a therapist to speak with and the best advice given was “take care of yourself. This is not the time to take care of others, even as they grapple with your life threatening news.” I listened. I took care of myself. I healed. I thrived.

22 years later, the unexpected arrived again. Now I was living in Western Massachusetts. Cancer Connection, whom I made part of my family when I relocated here in 2000, was there. The breast cancer support group offered me a safe place to be. Where I could cry, be angry, be inquisitive, and even laugh much. I was accepted and welcomed. I could be quiet for the entire time or I could talk too much. Whoever I was that day, I was allowed to be.

The group members helped me wrestle with the question, “what now?” Through their listening ears and the facilitator Kathy Walsh’s support, I realized I wanted more for myself, more out of life. I admitted no cancer diagnosis would ever defeat me. This time I made a career change. A change that led me to volunteer at Cancer Connection. And now I am blessed and privileged to serve as Cancer Connection’s Executive Director. Yahoo!

Friends, families, supporters, and community members, have you hoped for the best, yet received or expected the worse? You are not alone.

Longtime Cancer Connection group facilitator, clinical supervisor, and befriending trainer Paula Murphy said that having cancer is like walking a tightrope between hoping for the best and expecting the worst. When we’re on that tightrope, how do we find our strengths, hopefulness, and ways to connect again, so we can face the challenges of our illness or of caring for our loved ones?

We can start by finding someone who will meet us where we’re at, and listen without opinion, pity, or judgment. Someone who will let us talk, laugh, or cry if we want to. Someone who will help us remember that you are still you, the person who you were before a cancer diagnosis. That’s what I found when I joined the breast cancer support group.

Thank you for all that you have done to sustain Cancer Connection’s support groups over the past 20 years. You:

  • Spread the word.
  • Attended the support groups for your support and to support others.
  • Shopped at Cancer Connection's Thrift Shop.
  • Donated your gently used belongings to the Thrift Shop.
  • Volunteered at the Center and the Thrift Shop.
  • Camped out with Monte and WRSI.
  • Ran or walked the WMASS Mother’s Day Half Marathon or the Bridge of Flowers Race.
  • Supported and encouraged a runner or walker.
  • Shared your story.
  • Gave your financial gift.
  • Performed countless other selfless acts of good.

Thank you. Thank you for helping people living with cancer walk that tightrope.

Continuing to support classes, groups, and befriending at Cancer Connection, all offered at no cost to participants, is critical during this unexpected time. Let’s sustain this invaluable resource for the whole community. Please visit our donation page to learn about the diverse ways that you can give today. “No gift is too small; no gift is too large.”


Beverly L. Herbert, Executive Director
Know Someone Walking that Tightrope?
How Support Groups Help
Deb Burkhalter, Support Group Facilitator
Cancer Connection support groups provide a haven where emotions can spill out in total confidentiality. There are no relatives, colleagues, or friends to protect. There is freedom from uninformed or even disturbing comments from others. Members form relationships quickly as they zero in on the heart of their feelings. Mood swings are accepted without judgment. Common sense solutions can be shared, and laughter lightens the load.

Deb Burkhalter, facilitator of the Northampton All Cancers Support Group, said, “Cancer Connection support groups offer a safe place. I marvel at the genuine caring, compassion, concern and kinship in my group. It’s a privilege to witness the risk-taking that occurs, allowing oneself to be seen, with tears as well as laughter, sharing stories of living with cancer. I’m often humbled by the courage and grace present in that room...even now over videoconferencing.”

Cancer Connection continues to offer the following support groups facilitated by professionals, even during this time when we can’t be together in person:

  • All Cancers (for people diagnosed with any type of cancer) - Groups in Northampton and Amherst

  • Living with Breast Cancer

  • Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

  • Caregivers & Families

  • Men Living with Cancer

  • Ovarian & Gynecological Cancers

  • Self-Care Skills and Support

All groups are currently meeting using remote conferencing.  

For more information about these groups and other programs, call (413) 586-1642, send an email to info@cancer-connection.org, or visit www.cancer-connection.org.
For Those Who Aren't Sure
About a Support Group Right Now
Sometimes you aren't ready to join a group or a class when you or a family member has just been diagnosed, or you think sharing your feelings in a support group just isn't for you. And that’s OK. 

Everyone who gets in touch with Cancer Connection starts by talking by phone with our warm and caring befrienders--Jo-Anna, Rianna, or Sheila. They are empathetic listeners. They can share information about our programs and ways to access and navigate community and health care resources.

When you are speaking with a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker who might benefit from our free services, please tell them that people dealing with cancer have found even a brief phone call to be supportive and helpful.

Call 413-586-1642 to get in touch with us, or email info@cancer-connection.org.
How to Reach Our Center and Thrift Shop

Cancer Connection's Center

We are still here for you.
Know somebody who needs support?
Have questions about any of our programs and services?

Please call or email and give us available times to speak with you.

We are checking phone and email messages regularly.

We will call or email you back as usual.

Phone :

General Email:     

41 Locust Street, Northampton, MA

For continued updates about our services, please visit our  website:

Cancer Connection Thrift Shop

Thrift Shop Phone : 413-587-9999

Thrift Shop Address: 375 South Street in Northampton, MA

Due to COVID-19, the store is working on reopening, date to be announced.

Visit the Thrift Shop's   Facebook page   or   web page   for updates.