Updated: Oct 22
A day full of emotion, joy and laughter combined with learning, fellowship, and food. What more could you ask of a beautiful fall day in Virginia!
Robin Yoder, Director, The Hawthorne Cancer Resource Center, Johnston-Willis Hospital
"Sometimes I have the best job in the world, at least on Wednesday evenings. For 29 years of my career, I have facilitated a Breast Cancer Support Group on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. I have had the privileged vantage point to sit and witness with the most wonderful women and a gentleman who by no choice of their own have had to face their fear, stare mortality in the eye and walk blindly through their faith and despite it all, choose to find a way to live their best life. I'd like to think that I have had some small part in that process for them, having had to do the same in a very public way with my own cancer journey.
In any event, something really special happens on Wednesdays when we gather...or anytime we gather! I do not run a "by the rules a textbook" type support group. (imagine that if you know me and know how I work.) I am a Licensed Masters Social Worker with an Oncology Certification...so I am qualified. Some nights it's all about the food, particularly the 2nd Wednesday of each month. The fellowship lightens the mood. Some nights if you passed by our meeting space, you would wonder if it were comedy night by the bellow of laughter that resonates throughout "The Hawthorne Cancer Resource Center" where we meet. Other nights we sit gracefully poised hearing from a member/friend, the news we fight so hard not to hear.... only later to attend their homegoing. From time to time, we are blessed with a guest from the dedicated Oncology team members of Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Johnston-Willis Hospital. They openly share their knowledge and wisdom as physicians, clinical nurses, dieticians, genetic counselors, and fellow social workers.
We, as community members, have camped in the woods, walked, run, and participated in local events and triathlons. We have enjoyed happy hours, dinners, rowed at the Row House, danced in a parking lot, lobby and garden, written songs ....simply just lived through it all, the best life possible while going through the emotional and physical hell of cancer.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly challenged us, but I'm proud to say that we worked it out and have met virtually every Wednesday since we were shut down in March.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so in keeping with tradition, we did something new....we rode horses! Thanks to Bruce Nachman, founder of New Day Equine Therapy in Ashland, Virginia, and his awesome volunteers, we spent the day alongside the gentle creatures of God's creation in those beautiful horses. It was a day of learning, fellowship, and food. It was a day of emotion....joy and a lot of laughter. It was a day that felt "normal," sort of. It was a day of simply choosing to live and being willing to experience something new. It was a day that had nothing to do with cancer, but it had everything to do with cancer. It was a day to smile and support one another and be present on a perfectly glorious fall day in the company of good friends whose paths would have probably never crossed, yet they did. It was a day to simply pause and live your best life. So happy Breast Cancer Awareness month to anyone on this journey. Thank you, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute, at Johnston-Willis Hospital, for continuing to support this service, which enables me to do what I do.
Thanks to The Hawthorne Cancer Foundation for the Resource Center and the community that is so special! If you or someone you love is battling any cancer, reach out and let us help you! https://www.thehawthorne.org
We appreciate your support, both as volunteers and through your financial contributions.
Thank you !