Local group helps those with breast cancer

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Four years ago, Rhonda Williams of McDonough heard the words no woman ever wants to hear. Now she is helping others on the same journey she has taken.

Thriving and Surviving Breast Cancer Support Group meets the last Saturday the month at Piedmont Henry Hospital. Special photo

In 2011 the retired U.S. Air Force veteran, a mother as well as a grandmother, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The year that followed included chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstruction and a hysterectomy.

Now cancer-free, she is working to provide support for others who are dealing with what she has endured.

A support group called “Thriving & Surviving Breast Cancer Support” gathers the last Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. for a meeting and brunch in the Foundation Room of Piedmont Henry Hospital’s Education Building.

The group “focuses on helping breast cancer patients and survivors through their journeys - emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” according to Williams.

Group members are hands-on in their support. They sit with patients during their treatments and surgeries. They take food to patients’ families during treatments. They assist financially with bills for those struggling to make ends meet during the treatment process. There is even a closed Facebook page where group members talk online around the clock and answer any questions that new breast cancer patients (male and female) may have.

The monthly meetings include guest speakers such as counselors, nutritionists, chefs who specialize in healthy cooking, health insurance professionals and more. There are also therapeutic sessions involving arts and crafts like crochet and vision boards. Group members try to “educate and inspire” each other, as Williams put it.

“We share what we learned through our journeys and elaborate on the choices that we made to get us through,” she said.

The group participated in Relay for Life events in Henry and Clayton counties as well as the Walk for Life in Riverdale and the Making Strides walk in Atlanta. More than $1,500 was raised and donated to these causes.

Earlier this month Williams was honored as one of five winners - out of hundreds of nominations - of the Diamond Hope Award presented by the Atlanta Braves. The award was for her involvement in breast cancer awareness and helping others, she said.

“I am so grateful that God blessed me to come through my journey cancer-free,” she said. “That’s when I decided to help others through their journeys.”

Anyone now going through a similar experience who would like the support of this group can contact them at thrivingandsurviving77@yahoo.com.