The spiritual side of ﬁghting cancer
October 8, 2012
When local resident Edda Hunter was first diagnosed with cancer in 2006, she went to lots of support groups to deal with the challenges of her illness. But although she found the meetings helpful, they didn't meet her personal spiritual needs. So a year ago, Hunter founded and became director of Hope Bearers, a Christ Centered Support group for those facing the challenges of cancer or chronic illness.
Hunter, now a four-time survivor of cancer, has struggled with two more bouts of cancer in the past year, one of which was determined to be untreatable with conventional therapy. She felt that God led her to a clinical trial specifically designed to treat her type of cancer. Her first follow up CT scan since starting the trial has already shown improvement.
"The hardest part is to walk into a circle and say, 'I'm not healthy any longer' to perfect strangers," Hunter said. But though she started Hope Bearers to help others, she also has experienced the power of the support, encouragement and prayer.
"With the two new cancers, I was devastated. I'd tried everything in my power and felt like a failure. But the group gave me so much compassion, caring and comfort. I felt peace knowing I was on the right track," she said.
Sally Landsburg, assistant director of Hope Bearers, was diagnosed a year ago with a rare kind of cancer and given between three and 18 months to live. After several months of debilitating chemotherapy, her doctor suspended treatment because it was not getting results.
Yet at her most recent medical appointment, her doctor said the words that all cancer patients long to hear — he told her she was in remission. They were both thrilled. Landsburg said her doctor told her he doesn't get to prescribe miracles, but he does get to see one once-in-a-while.
Hope Bearers offers prayer, fellowship and encouragement to keep a strong faith in the midst of the challenges and difficulties of cancer and chronic illness.
"We believe that together we will grow in faith and strengthen one another, knowing that God is always present when we gather in his name," Landsburg said. "The prayer support in the group is awesome. We want people to come, be encouraged and loved."
Though the group is Christ centered, they welcome people of all denominations who are faced with health challenges. The meetings also have provisions for caretakers, family and friends. In addition, group members make themselves available by phone to pray or to make a home visit, if needed.
Each meeting begins with a prayer, then there is time for members to share their triumphs and their struggles. The group then prays together and closes the meeting in prayer. If someone needs extra help, they sometimes stay after to offer more support.
"I have great support—husband, family and church. But it is good to talk things over," Landsburg said. "I thought if I talked about what I've been through, it might be able to help someone else. But it has really helped me too. Our group is a place to share the goods and the bads, to share your fears and have someone listen and understand."
Hunter feels that she was divinely inspired to start the group and is committed to helping others with the challenges that chronic illness and cancer create in their lives.
"I know that there are people out there who need this, who are asking themselves, 'Where do I turn?'" Hunter said. "It's not about me or about us. It's about other folks. It's got to be about other people for it to be of service.
"I can say 'I'm really here for you because I know where you are and I will do everything in my power to help.' But it is really God's power that helps. It all started with him."
The group meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of the month for about an hour at Foothill Church, 15874 Allison Ranch Road, Grass Valley, For information and directions, go to: http://www.foothillchurch.org/hope_bearers.cfm.
You can also contact Edda Hunter for information at (530) 432-2862 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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