A new attendee at the cancer support group sat quietly while others told their stories. He had recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and was feeling very dejected. When it was Betty Bond’s turn, she explained that she was a seven-year survivor of Stage 4 ovarian cancer. For the first time, the group’s newest participant spoke up. “Finally,” he exclaimed, “someone who has survived a Stage 4 cancer!”
It’s just one of many examples of the support and encouragement that happens in Memorial Hospital’s monthly “Journey of Hope” cancer support group meetings. Now in its 17th year, the group offers participants the opportunity to share their hopes and fears with others who understand what they are going through.
Journey of Hope was created in 1999 by Roxanne Major, RN OCN and Ruthann Fabrizio, RN BSN. Together, the nurses wanted to create a place for cancer patients to come together; a compassionate setting where knowledge, fears and even humor could be shared.
“Everybody is different and everyone has their own story,” Roxanne said. “We laugh a lot, we cry, and we talk things out. We sometimes forget how strong people can be. The goal of our group is to meet people where they are, and help as best we can.”
Since the group started, hundreds of people with all types and stages of cancer have participated and significant others are encouraged to attend as well. Sometimes, friends or relatives of cancer patients who live elsewhere come looking for answers and support. The group is free and welcomes community members regardless of where they are receiving their treatment.
Robert Bond first started attending the group nine years ago to support his wife, Betty, who was in the midst of her fight against Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Then, three years ago, Robert was diagnosed with a blood cancer.
“Everybody gives you advice,” Bob said, “but the group is a place where you can get accurate information as well as support. Today, cancer is really a chronic disease because of all the new chemotherapy agents and targeted therapies.”
Ruthann Fabrizio is mostly retired but still co-facilitates the Journey of Hope. Looking back on her long career she said, “As a nurse, you take everything to heart. When there’s a cancer diagnosis, everybody is scared. Everybody is looking for a sense of normalcy. The group lets people feel like they are with friends who understand what’s happening to them.”
Memorial Hospital’s oncology and infusion services have grown significantly since it began 20 years. This summer, the hospital completed major renovations, creating a state-of-the art setting for patients to receive quality cancer treatment close to home. And all of them will find a compassionate group of people ready to support them along their Journey of Hope.
Journey of Hope - Cancer Support Group
When: Meets the 1st Tuesday of every month, 7pm - 8:30pm, in the Memorial Hospital Sun Room.
Journey of Hope, a cancer support group:
Since 1999, a vibrant group upwards of 20 cancer survivors have met monthly to provide wonderful support to one another. Whether you have been through it, or are going through it now, this is a great group of people to know. Information, education, speakers and encouragement are provided for those with cancer and their support people. This group is facilitated by an oncology certified nurse and Social Services.
For more information, call Oncology & Infusion at Memorial Hospital at 603-356-4904.
About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, family birthing center, sleep center, wound care and hyperbaric medicine center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services and the Miranda Center for Diabetes. Physician practices include primary care and family medicine, women's health, orthopedics and sports medicine. The Merriman House, a 45-bed nursing home specializing in Alzheimer's and other memory disorders, is also located on the hospital campus. Together, our staff and providers are committed to meeting the health needs of the Mt. Washington Valley and surrounding communities by collaborating with community partners in the delivery of accessible, comprehensive, compassionate, and quality health care.