YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – “You have cancer” are the words that no one wants to hear.
One group of women have banded together to make sure that no one has to go through that shock alone.
The FOCUS (Friends Offering Compassionate Understanding Support) breast cancer support group is celebrating its 30th anniversary together. Among them is a 35-year survivor, Carol Carr, who has been there since the beginning, in 1987.
“I finally felt like I wasn’t alone,” Carr said. “So many women showed up for that very first meeting. It was overwhelming. A bond was formed that night that has never been broken.”
Many women are undergoing treatment. Others, like Carr and Linda Kapalko, beat their cancer.
They come every month, regardless of their circumstances.
“It’s a great group of women that are survivors, and when you hear how long they’re survivors, it gave you encouragement that it wasn’t quite the ‘death sentence’ that cancer has always been classified as,” Kapalko said.
Thirty years is a long time.
There have been 30 years of photos, events, memories and even ups and downs.
“I will say there’ve been a lot more high points, but yet, we’ve been all together and lost members, and we take it personally and we hurt, but we go through it together,” Carr said.
As treatments and statistics change over the years, the group, too, had to adapt and change.
With no sponsor, the group has to meet new people as they find them.
What hasn’t changed is the feeling when a doctor says, “You have breast cancer.”
For more information on the support group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.