Since February, a Maryville church has held bi-monthly cancer support group meetings in partnership with the St. Joseph Mosaic Medical Center.
Pastor Kim Mitchell learned about the need for a cancer support group in Maryville while going through Clinical Pastoral Education to become a chaplain.
Mitchell said the support group has been well received. There were three attendees in person last Thursday, and the meetings are also available through Zoom.
Meetings are held at the First United Methodist Church on the first and third Thursdays of each month.
“We have had as many as eight in a group in a session, to only two,” Mitchell said. “We find success is not the number of attendants, but success is the conversation, no matter if the group is big or small. It is all about having the ability to share your story.”
In these meetings, anyone who has or knows someone who does have cancer can gather and support each other as they each share their story.
“The Fireside Chat Cancer Support Group, as well as the St. Joseph support groups, are a place and space for meeting others who are on the cancer journey,” Mitchell said. “Whether they are a cancer patient, a cancer survivor or a caregiver supporting a loved one who has been diagnosed.”
Mitchell started the group with a partnership with the Mosaic Medical Center in St. Joseph. Mitchell’s CPE instructor put her in touch with Emily Heckman at the Mosaic Life Care Cancer Center in St. Joseph, who was already leading two virtual groups.
Getting a support group set up in Maryville was not a quick process. Mitchell said that it took over seven months, from September 2020 to February 2021, for Heckman and her to create the Fireside Chat in Maryville with representatives at Mosaic Life Care.
The meetings start with questions to break the ice, and that soon evolves into conversations in which the participants tell their story.
“Story-telling is a great form of healing for the mind and spirit in the midst of the illness,” said Mitchell.
The attendees spent much of the meeting going over when they got diagnosed, how it affected them, and what they’re doing now.
“Since I’ve been sick, I’ve found out who really cares about me,” the attendee said.
Another said they didn’t Google any information about their diagnosis until the day before their biopsy because their anxiety was too high.
“I’ve just had to realize that I’ve had a good, long life and that this is out of my control,” they said.
During the meeting, Mitchell read poetry about the subject to the attendees, including ones called “The Cancer Waltz” and “Ignorant Bliss.”
Later, the attendees were asked what they were looking forward to the next day for self-motivation.
There was a range of what people were looking forward to, from visiting someone they haven’t been able to see for 18 months, all the way to washing a set of sheets the next day.
To join the group, email Pastor Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meetings are on the first and third Thursday of the month at the First United Methodist Church at 6 p.m.