“The BIG C”— CANCER. . .the one word that never fails to darken the spirit and grip the heart with fear and despair. Nothing can prepare you for the emotional upheaval and life-altering journey that follows a diagnosis. Suddenly, life’s priorities are driven by a desperate desire to simply stay alive.
We endure horrendous side-effects from poisonous chemicals, radiation and steroids. We purge our pantries of sugars and trans-fats to embrace the unimagined flavors of all things green, leafy and organic. We spend untold amounts on surgeries, therapies and supplements.
Though focusing on our physical health is important, these efforts cannot overshadow our much greater need. The even greater priority must always be our spiritual health. There is a level of comfort and surrender that can only come from being close to God. It is our faith, “of greater worth than gold” (1 Peter 1:7), that needs attention. It was to this end that God created the concept of a support group. In fact, He describes his church as a body where each member depends on other “supporting ligaments” to connect, grow and experience His love. Within my church, a group of women decided to form such a group. We call ourselves, “Cancerchicks”.
I recently asked several of the Cancerchicks why they find our support group valuable:
“I need my support group because no matter what my circumstance is, l will always have hope. I need friends who understand the same fears I have and can lead me, with scripture, to always have hope in a God who is more powerful than cancer. Without Cancerchicks I could not have seen my sufferings as a blessing.”
“I need Cancerchicks so I can open up about what I am feeling as well as help others with how they feel.”
“I need my support group because it increases my faith. I need my friends who share my same sufferings and my same faith. Through Cancerchicks we have a common goal to comfort those with the same comfort we have received from God. Cancerchicks is a result of our faith because ‘we know that in all things (even cancer) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’.”
“I need my Cancerchicks support group because these women understand not only the physical & emotional battle of dealing with cancer but also the spiritual battle. I also feel great love & compassion from them.”
“I need my Cancerchicks support group because I can't face the specific challenges and struggles associated with cancer without the spiritual support of other disciples. As a seven-year cancer survivor, the mutual support, encouragement, and friendship that we share helps me deal with the long-term effects of having cancer and allows me to offer others some of the comfort and understanding God has given me.”
I was completely vulnerable and felt so lost and helpless in dealing with my diagnosis. I needed other women for support, guidance and encouragement. Through the care and communication amongst our ministry staff, I was introduced to my dear friend Michele, a cancer survivor herself. I will always remember the morning I walked into Starbucks and was greeted with bright balloons, an even brighter smile, a big gift basket, and the compassionate tears and comforting embrace uniquely understood by those in “the sisterhood”. She had recently finished chemo and surgery and I could see that her hair was growing back. Most of all, I could see that she had faith in God. It was in that first meeting where our vision for Cancerchicks began. Our deepest conviction was that it would be a Christian support group, focusing on strengthening our faith and reaching out to those who do not know God. We meet once a month and as we meet women struggling through their cancer battles, we share our faith and invite them to join us. Cancerchicks has become a beacon of hope for many. Through our ministry, women have studied the Bible, turned to God and become Christians.
To start your own spiritual cancer support group:
· Ask your ministry staff to provide names of those who are cancer survivors
· Have a meeting and clarify the goals of your group:
1. To provide hope and faith in God’s eternal plan:
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
2. To provide emotional support and camaraderie through personal sharing:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3)
3. To coordinate meeting specific needs (meals, rides, childcare, etc.):
“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
4. To encourage those without faith to begin pursuing a relationship with God:
“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” (Psalm 94:19)
If you would like to share your own personal stories of overcoming through faith and build a network of spiritual relationships with other survivors, visit the Cancerchicks website at www.cancerchicks.com
and contact our webmaster to have your stories added to the site.
posted by Jerry Maday, Worcester, MA