The Kemptville Cancer Support group is celebrating 20 years of providing support to people living with cancer in the community. St John United Church Minister Angela Bailey started the group in 2000, when she noticed that more and more people were coming to her asking for moral and spiritual support as they went through their battle with cancer. Angela herself was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, and through her own struggle, it became even more apparent to her that there was a great need for a support group for people battling cancer in the community.
Angela lead the group until 2005, when she was transferred to a parish in Ottawa. Norma Fisher, who had her first cancer diagnosis in 1999, stepped up to keep the group going. Norma lead the group until 2015, when she retired as Chair, and Ellen Vibert-Miller stepped into the role.
The Kemptville Cancer Support Group has not only been integral in supporting its members over the years, they have also been active in fundraising for various initiatives relating to cancer in the community. From 2005 to 2012, they held yearly dances with proceeds going towards the palliative care unit at Kemptville District Hospital (KDH), Beth Donovan Hospice, various breast cancer initiatives, and the mammography suite at KDH. In 2015, the group held an auction to support Ovarian Cancer Canada and raised $5,000 for the cause. Three group members also started making appearances across Eastern Ontario talking about Ovarian Cancer and the importance of early detection. They got Jim Beveridge, from B&H Grocer, involved in Ovarian Cancer month by collecting $2 donations at the cash registers for the cause throughout the month of September, an initiative that is still going on to this day.
Perhaps the largest fundraising initiative the group has taken on over the past 20 years is the sponsoring of their Make A Wish child in 2017. To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the group decided they wanted to focus on childhood cancer and help make a local child’s wish come true. In just one month they were able to raise the $10,000 needed to send Abigail Hosick on a Disney Cruise with her family. Abigail is now cancer-free and is looking forward to going on her dream vacation in April.
The group also raised money last year to support one of their members who is a single mom still intrenched in her battle with cancer. With a bake sale and an online crowdfunding initiative, they were able to help her pay overdue bills and help support her family while she continues to fight for her life.
While the Kemptville Cancer Support Group has done a lot of fundraising and community outreach over the years, its main goal is to support its members. The people who attend the group all have their own experience with cancer. Some have been in remission for over a decade, while others are still very much in the throws of treatment. Caregivers, and those who have lost a loved one to cancer, are also very welcome, as cancer touches not just person who is ill, but everyone around them.
You would think a group about cancer would be depressing, but the atmosphere in the room at these monthly meetings is anything but. Yes, the conversation can get heavy at times, but there is also a lot of laughter and true human connection that lifts the spirits of everyone in the room. “Cancer is not the end of things,” Norma said at their last meeting. “It’s your attitude and how you are blessed.”
The Kemptville Cancer Support Group holds their meetings on the third Monday of the month from 2pm-4pm at St John’s United Church on Prescott Street. If there is interest, they are considering holding a second meeting in the evening, for those who can’t make it out during the day. For more information contact Ellen at [email protected]