A Place To Talk
When you’ve beat a disease like cancer, having friends who understand and have shared your experiences can help you get back to enjoying life as a survivor. That’s why Russell Medical Center (RMC) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) teamed up to provide the Today Our Understanding of Cancer is Hope (TOUCH) support group.
A CARING COMMUNITY
TOUCH provides a safe place for survivors, their families and loved ones to learn and share their experiences together. “The group is entirely different from other resources,” says Rosemary V. Brigham, LBSW, a social worker for the Cancer Center at RMC and TOUCH group facilitator. “Their doctor can help answer questions, but he or she may not be able to answer questions as a cancer survivor.” TOUCH group members are all cancer survivors and share a closeness with each other through their experiences.
The diverse group includes members ranging in age from 13 to 80, but Brigham says they all relate to each other and new members instantly. “The group shares a special camaraderie,” says Brigham. “Whether a member is experiencing a recurrence or asking general lifestyle questions, they all come together to provide answers and support.”
A main component of the group is open discussion facilitated by Brigham. “We’re fortunate to have Rosemary lead this group,” says Mabry A. Cook, director of the Cancer Center at RMC. “She creates an environment where everyone feels at ease and safe to discuss their experiences.” TOUCH also features educational topics presented by physicians, clergy, nutritionists and more based on topics requested by members. Past topics have included:
- new cancer treatments and tests
- cancer research and statistics from the ACS
- Total Fitness at RMC
- reducing cancer risk
- pet therapy
- home health, hospice and stress relief
“The group belongs to its members, and this is what matters to them,” says Brigham. “We’re happy to bring in area experts on the topics they’re interested in.” Southern Care Hospice also provides lunch for the group once a month.
LIFE AFTER CANCER
“The TOUCH Group is an important part of providing cancer survivors and their families healing after the healing,” says Cook. Perhaps the best result of the group is helping its members see that there is life after cancer. Members are active volunteers in the community and their churches, and enjoy playing tennis and being involved with their families. “We’re pleased to offer TOUCH, even if a person only needs to come once,” says Brigham. “That one time may make a difference for him or her, and that’s what counts.”