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Cancer survivors reach out to the suffering

Cancer survivors reach out to the suffering

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Cancer survivors reach out to the suffering

June 11, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0502}

An e-Review Feature
By Steven Skelley**

Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of difficulty, lies opportunity.” Two Homosassa, Fla., residents have faced the extreme difficulty called cancer and are now creating opportunities to encourage others.

HOMOSASSA — Earl Cadaret and Anna Cooley. Photo by Steven Skelley, Photo #06-379. Web photo only.

Anna Cooley and Earl Cadaret recently launched the Cancer Survivors Support Group, which meets monthly at First United Methodist Church in Homosassa where both are members.

“We are both cancer survivors, and we feel we have something to share with people who are going through similar circumstances,” Cooley said.

Cooley has battled breast cancer for more than five years. “When I first heard I had cancer my knees buckled,” she said. “Just before that, I had been to a Billy Graham crusade, and I had gotten a book called ‘Peace With God,’ and that book got me through that first week.”

“People who have cancer begin to wonder if anyone cares at all,” added Cadaret, a lung cancer survivor of 15 years. “You often feel alone. You feel like you are in no-man’s land. We’re here to help them and support them through this battle in every way we can.”

Cadaret says a cancer diagnosis is no longer “the kiss of death.” “We’ve been there,” he said. “We want to let people know we are here for them. We understand their fears and concerns.”

And with cancer, those fears are many, according to Cadaret. There’s the fear of having cancer, fear of having that diagnosis confirmed by a doctor, fear of the disease itself. “Cancer is scary. … Then, being diagnosed with cancer elevates the fear.”

When his oncologist told him he had lung cancer, Cadaret said he “lost the next 45 minutes. … It was the last thing I heard.”

“I don’t like to think I am a fearful man,” he said, “but fear absolutely took hold of me when I heard those words. If I had had a group like this one to support me, it would have made a big difference.”

Cadaret believes faith also makes a difference in the battle. “My wife actually prayed with my surgeon before he operated on me,” he said. “I believe God spared me for a reason, and now I want to do something to help someone else, and that’s why I am doing this. … It’s possible, with God’s grace, to make it through all this.”

Jerry Cole is a member of the support group. She says it’s helpful being able to talk to someone who has had a similar experience. “ We understand each other,” she said. “We can’t walk in someone else’s shoes exactly, but we find we have similar feelings about this challenge.”

Cole believes other churches should start similar programs. “It’s a place where you can find support and also be a support to someone else.”

Cooley said the group is confidential, helping create an atmosphere of trust. “What we share with each other stays in the group. … It’s like that saying ‘What happens on the cruise stays on the cruise!’ ”

The support group now has more than a half dozen members. Cooley and Cadaret’s goal is to reach a dozen, then launch a second group and reach a dozen more. They hope that pattern will continue as they reach out to those with similar challenges.


This article relates to Outreach.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Skelley is a freelance writer based in Beverly Hills, Fla. His columns appear in the Naples Sun Times newspaper and Faith & Tennis magazine.