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Cancer survivors find strength from one another

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
It's hard to imagine amidst the laughter, joking, fellowship and food all this merriment is being made by a group of cancer patients and their caregivers.
However, American Cancer Society Hartselle Support Group Facilitator Myra Sivley said this is just how the meeting goes each month.
"We just get together and have a good time," Sivley admitted. "All kinds of people with all kinds of cancer get together to talk and eat and have a little fun. We help each other, and that gives us purpose."
Sivley said she approached Hartselle Medical Center Marketing Director and Senior Circle Advisor Kathy White Goodwin nearly four years ago about starting a cancer support group in Hartselle for men and women with any kind of cancer.
"I had battled breast cancer and wanted to find a support group, but the only group I found was in Decatur and it was only for people with breast cancer," Sivley recalled. "I wanted to be with all kinds of people with all kinds of cancer, and here we are."
The group meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Place building on Sparkman Street. Sivley said the meetings are open to anyone dealing with cancer on any level–cancer patients, caregivers, those who have lost a loved one to cancer, or those who volunteer their time to people with cancer.
"Like Sam Gugliotta," Sivley said. "He worked as a hospital lab technician for 40 years and volunteers for Camp Bluebird."
Gugliotta addressed the group at the November meeting and told members who had never attended the Camp Bluebird North Alabama Adult Cancer Camp, sponsored by Decatur General Hospital and the Telephone Pioneers, what a good time they were missing.
"They have arts and crafts, tons of food, a hayride, a dance, singing around the campfire, and fellowshipping, one cancer patient to another," he explained. "As a volunteer, I sometimes felt I got more out of the campers than they did me. They taught me to live each day to the fullest. It's a life completing journey."
The group also lightheartedly discussed current issues like the presidential election and the shortage of flu shots. Officers were nominated and elected, Christmas projects and events were planned, and food was served.
But mostly, there was laughter.
"And that's the best medicine," Sivley said.
For more information about the American Cancer Society Hartselle Support Group, contact Sivley at 773-2751. The next meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. with Signs of Courage from Hartselle Junior High School performing.