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.
Beverly L. Herbert, Executive Director