|Calls For Cancer Care|
Most support groups meet face-to-face. But what if you’re too sick to go to a meeting, or live thousands of miles away? For some cancer survivors, finding support and encouragement is as easy as picking up the phone. Kim Riemland reports.
(Locator: Harrisburg, Pa.)
Conference call: “Priscilla, Pennsylvania. Mel, up in Ontario. Hi, Michael. Renee, out in Nebraska.”
The calls come from all over the U.S. and Canada.
Conference call: “Cancer is a wake-up call.”
The Reverend Michael Gingerich helps people deal with the stresses of cancer with a weekly support group by telephone. The United Methodist pastor works with the Cancer Recovery Foundation of America, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Rev. Michael Gingerich, Cancer Recovery Foundation of America: “We’ve had people calling from bed because they haven’t been well enough to leave. We’ve had people who actually call from, as they’re getting chemotherapy.”
On telephone: “I’m feeling good. And try to cut off that feeling of hopelessness.”
Gingerich says his 20 years in the ministry help him counsel and comfort cancer patients. The disease has also touched his family — his wife is a breast-cancer survivor.
The Rev. Michael Gingerich, Cancer Recovery Foundation of America: “What we do here at the Cancer Recovery Foundation is to try to let people know that there are options — that it’s not hopeless.”
On phone: “It’s my one-year anniversary.”
One of the callers in the telephone support group is Robert Gunther, a freelance writer in Pennsylvania who went through surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer.
Robert Gunther, Cancer Survivor: “There’s sort of the broad help in feeling like you’re not alone in this whole thing.”
Gunther has been whitewater kayaking since finishing his treatments and now he wants to see the day when his 10-year-old daughter gets married.
Robert Gunther, Cancer Survivor: “It feels really good to be alive.”
And with the help of his long-distance friends, Gunther says he’s learned cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
Robert Gunther, Cancer Survivor: “I’ve had more conversations with people about gratitude, forgiveness, since I’ve had cancer than I’ve ever had before then. It changes the way that you look at the world, and there’s a real opportunity there.”
The Cancer Recovery Foundation of America also holds a weekly, call-in support group for caregivers for cancer survivors. You can call 800-238-6479 or you can find more information on their Web site.
Also, see: For cancer patients, support is just a phone call away