In times of great suffering, there can be profound comfort in finding others who have similar struggles. Although it may not alleviate the pain, there is consolation in knowing you are not alone. The Cancer Support Group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is here to provide a welcoming space for those in need of community in the face of illness.
Louise Kummer serves as one of the facilitators of the ministry along with Pam Cowles.
“It’s a place for people to vent out,” Louise says. “Life is tough but God is there. We forget God is here to help us through every day.”
Following her own journey with breast cancer, Louise was seeking support for her experience, looking for someone to talk to who understood what she had been through. Unable to find proper support, she and Pam — also a cancer survivor — started the Cancer Support Group here in the parish.
That was 10 years ago, and the group has welcomed different people with varying experiences over the years, including some who’ve since passed away from terminal cancer.
“It’s sometimes just a few people, but I just feel, sometimes that one person needs to talk about what goes on,” Louise says. “I just think God arranges for that, even if it’s a small group. That’s why I continue the group.”
Louise recalls one instance when she thought no one was going to show up for the gathering, but she decided to host the group anyway. One woman showed up and spent an hour with Louise, seeking her support.
“Where would that person go if I was not there that day?” Louise says.
While there is no precise agenda, the group generally follows a format for their bi-monthly meetings. The group opens with a prayer, then attendees open up with individual introductions. One of the members leads the group in relaxation and stretching exercises. Then, they each pick a Bible verse out of a bag and share how the verse relates to their present situation. They also have an opportunity to share a happy event or highlight in their lives.
“This moment is very important to the group because we find out that life has many challenges, but take time to remember happy present events — that life is good, that God is with us,” Louise says.
The Cancer Support Group is open to anyone affected by cancer. This includes those currently in treatment or remission, as well as those who have family members or friends affected by cancer.
Many participants have benefited from the group and have had their faith strengthened. Some of the previous participants have since passed away, but their participation in the group helped bring peace in very difficult circumstances.
“Each one of the survivors is part of our ministry family,” Louise says. “We have some sad moments — but through faith, hope, and love, we always find some happy present events and some peaceful moments that increase our hope, faith, and peace.”
The group meets in the meeting room of the rectory, on the second Thursday of each month at 9:30 a.m. and on the fourth Thursday of the month at 2:30 p.m.
For more information about the Cancer Support Group, please contact Louise Kummer at email@example.com.