Fighting the big C

By KURT HAUGLIE

khauglie@mininggazette.com

HOUGHTON – The Women Living With Cancer Support Group is a little more than one year old, and members of the group will be recognizing that milestone and thanking the people who have provided care for them on April 26.

Support group member Anita Quinn said beginning at noon April 26 at the Continental Fire Co. on Montezuma Street in Houghton, there will be a luncheon for support group members and their caregivers. The luncheon is free to survivors, and there is a $5 fee for caregivers. There will be musical entertainment, also.

The deadline to register for the luncheon is Tuesday, Quinn said. For information and to register call 482-9675.

Quinn said the support group meets alternately at Portage Health in Hancock and at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium.

“Since January 2013, we’ve been meeting once a month on the last Wednesday of the month,” she said.

Quinn said the group usually meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. They have guest speakers, who also answer questions. Then the members talk.

“At the end there’s a sharing time,” she said.

Although the support group isn’t affiliated with either hospital, Quinn said members do get help from them with places to meet and some materials.

There are about 30 members who attend the meetings on and off, Quinn said, with six to 15 at any particular meeting.

“We’re trying to create a sustainable program,” she said.

Quinn said she is a survivor of breast and thyroid cancer. While she was getting treatment at the University of Michigan hospital, there was no support group available to her.

“I decided, gosh, we really need to do something locally,” she said. “It’s hard to relate to cancer unless you’re a survivor, too.”

Quinn said she talked about the need for a survivor support group with Angie Van Tassel, who was in a support group when she was getting treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Van Tassel said she also realized there was no support group for women getting treatment for cancer or who have survived cancer.

“I saw the need for support and camaraderie for women with cancer,” she said.

Van Tassel said she tried to establish a local support group in the past, but it didn’t last.

She talked with representatives of Portage Health and Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital about help with establishing a support group, but not one run by the hospitals, Van Tassel said.

“I wanted it to be a community thing, not necessarily hospital supported,” she said.

Information about the support group can be found on each hospital’s website, or by calling their oncology departments, Van Tassel said.

Van Tassel said both hospitals will provide assistance for the luncheon. Several local businesses will provide items to used as door prizes, also.

Having the support group is very important for her, Van Tassel said.

“I know what it is to be dealing with cancer,” she said.