Online Originals: Vidant cancer support group helps people cope

Online Originals

As we near the end of October, which is breast cancer awareness month, Vidant’s Cancer Center continues to recognize those who’ve been affected by the disease with a support group.

The Support and Survivorship Programs are free to those who wish to join, ranging from cancer patients, survivors, family, and caregivers.

Jenny Higgins is the program’s coordinator and says the response has been astonishing.

A meditation room within Vidant’s Cancer Center used by the Support and Survivorship Program.

The groups meet weekly to work on the mind, body, and spirit. Aside from small group exercises, the program involves forms of yoga and meditation, as well as painting classes, knitting, and music therapy.

These therapeutic forms are proven outlets of healing and health not just in the United States, but around the world.

Aside from activities inside the center, members of the program get to go on trips as well.

“We also offer some really specialized programs that we do offsite, where we partner with a wide variety of businesses and organizations in Eastern North Carolina, and we provide specialized experiences. Anything from deep sea chartered fishing, dolphin cruises, kayaking, nutrition classes, gardening, and again the list is so broad that it would be hard to cover it all.”

– Jenny Higgins, Licensed Clinical Oncology Social Worker and Psychotherapist / Support and Survivorship Coordinator

Higgins has been told by members of the program that their perspective and outlook on life has improved significantly after participating.

An ECU student volunteer showing program members how to knit.

Although there are endless opportunities offered within the program, there are some events with monthly consistency.

Every first and third Friday of the month the program holds a Journaling Workshop, for attendees to channel their emotions onto paper.

Caring Conversations Support Groups also meet on the second Tuesday of every month as well. These are other ways those affected by cancer can have an outlet to express themselves.

Among those who attend the program is Dale Naylor, a breast cancer survivor. Although she wasn’t treated at Vidant, she joined the program after attending a Power of Pink dinner several years ago.

Naylor said that Higgins was at the dinner with program flyers, and Naylor was most interested in the journaling. After attending the program, she “fell absolutely in love with the process.”

Dale Naylor (right) working on her knitting skills next to another program member.

Now, Naylor says that being a part of this program has helped her in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

“It’s allowed me to try things that I would never try, and it has shown me that cancer has not put limitations on what I can do. Cancer doesn’t define me. What I choose to do as a result of it, and opportunities that I’ve been offered…you know that’s getting me out and that’s really helping.” 

– Dale Naylor, breast cancer survivor

November 1 through the 28, Greenville’s Emerge Art Gallery will feature an exhibit called “Living our Legacy”. This exhibition is in collaboration with the Vidant Cancer Care at Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Tower.

Higgins expressed her pride in the exhibit stating, ” It will be an amazing evening for our artists as they worked very hard to express their emotions and thoughts of how they are processing their journey with cancer in the form of art.”

For more information on the exhibit, you can click the link here.

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