Cancer support group, Wigs of Love gives back to the community
When Laurie Behr and Donna Pearce met each other it was not under the best circumstances, but over the past 15 years they have been able to help and support others who are going through cancer.
The Cancer Support Group of Graham began in the winter 15 years ago when Pearce was an urgent referral to Dr. Donald Behr after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
“My husband (Dr. Behr) — he was alarmed. She was a younger woman, she had a child at home,” said Behr.
Behr and Pearce said that with this aggressive cancer, Pearce was given just 6 months to live.
While in the middle of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Pearce and Behr became friends.
“During that time she said that it was on her heart, she wanted to form a cancer support group,” Behr said. “I said terrific idea, let’s do it, but let’s get you on the other side of this first.”
Pearce said that God had laid it on her heart to form this group while she was still going through treatment.
“One of the reasons it was on my heart to start the group was because when you are diagnosed the first thing you think is ‘I’m I gonna die’. That’s just where your brain goes and I wanted people to know that people survive, people go on to live normal, happy, healthy lives,” said Pearce, “The cancer word is always in your brain, but you can be happy and healthy afterwards.”
The support of the group helped Donna fight her battle and come out on the other side, proving the doctors wrong.
Laurie and Donna have been the leaders of the cancer support group since the beginning and say that most of their members are from word of mouth.
“It’s been through the oncology offices or the primary cares, or through the surgery office, that we have gotten patients,” said Behr.
They said that they had not really done much advertising because they wanted the group to be for those battling the aggressive and serious forms of cancers, while keeping the group relatively small.
“We needed it to be more intimate, where people could feel comfortable expressing their fears, their joys (...),” said Pearce.
“One of the things that I think keeps people that we’ve invited to come the group from coming is they’re afraid that is it is just going to be a room of walking death, that it is going to be a very depressing environment,” said Behr, “Really it’s not, it’s very uplifting.”
When patients come into the office for treatment they get invited but say they have enough support within their family and friends.
“What you don’t get with your family and friends is the freedom to gnash your teeth, shake your fist, cry if you feel like it, to be scared (...) knowing that these women have all walked the walk, they get it, “ said Behr, “It is also really private, so if you are expressing something that’s really difficult. It is not something that is going to get back to your husband, your daughter or your sister who is going to say ‘oh my gosh, she’s really that scared?’ It’s a safe place to be afraid, it’s a safe place to talk about hard things.”
Behr said that there have been many women, and some men, that have come to the group and have continued to work as they go through surgeries and treatments.
For more information call Donna Pearce at Eastside Church of Christ at 940-549-0217 or leave a message at the Dr. Behr’s Medical Practice at 940-521-5525.
For the full story, see the Wednesday, Jan. 8 edition of The Graham Leader.