| Feb 19, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - February 19, 2009 A different kind of love in the airBy Julie Druker

Sydenham/Harrowsmith Breast Cancer Support Group at their recent February meeting

The Sydenham/ Harrowsmith Breast Cancer Support Group held their monthly meeting at the Harrowsmith United Church.

Sixteen members of the 65-member group that began in 1990, who range in age from 46 to 89, sat down for lunch and then proceeded upstairs where, as is their usual practice, they arranged chairs in a single large circle.

The group often invites guests to speak and holds workshops in various related fields on a number of different subjects, but no guests were scheduled on Tuesday; instead the group carried on in their usual way, sharing thoughts, feelings and information, which sometimes pertain to the disease that has afflicted each of them, but which often focus on their lives in general as women.

Founding member and chair of the group Joyce Lindsay held court. Her silver bell rings only when numerous excited conversations erupt at once but never when the laughter has gotten too loud or the talk too bawdy.

Prior to the meeting, Joyce spoke to me candidly about her personal cancer story. Diagnosed in October 1989 she had surgery and 25 radiation treatments. Four months later she had a recurrence, this time inside her cheek and underwent micrographic surgery to have it removed. She showed me the scar on the side of her face, barely visible now and she jokes about the unforeseen benefit of losing her double chin as a direct result of the surgery.

She shared with me her photo album/ scrap book, a large historical record of the group, with pictures of all of its members and many of their stories.

During the meeting, Joyce related news from members who were not present and cards were signed for members who are unwell. Information was shared regarding a business in Kingston that offers various products to women living with breast cancer. One member announced that Chestmates, Kingston’s dragon boat rowing team made up of women living with breast cancer, is looking for new paddlers for the upcoming 2009 season.

Elsie Higham shared her recent delving into alternative Chinese treatments like acupuncture and hair analysis and passed around a relevant book on the subject.

Adele Colby shared a recent scare she experienced regarding a possible metastasis, which kept her away from the group’s last meeting as she feared to upset others. She has since realized that in staying away she had firstly, short-changed the group by denying them the opportunity to offer her their support. And secondly she had short-changed herself by denying herself the group’s support.

One comes to realize that while it is cancer that has made each of these women a member of this group it is in no way what ultimately defines them or their relationships. This is a lively group of women and though the topic can be serious there is also lots of laughter. No doubt many tears have been shed at various times throughout their battles - the group after all has lost 29 of its members to the disease - but their primary focus seems to be to support one another in the here and now. Most of their talk focuses on the multiple roles that they continue to take on in lives that are full, vibrant, and courageously lived.

The group takes members from Kingston and the Frontenac counties. For more information on becoming a member please contact Joyce Lindsay at 613-376-3651. Joyce wishes to thank Dianne Brett for her continued help.

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