My name is Melissa Fletcher and my husband Aaron was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chromophobe Kidney Cancer last February. As our journey through kidney cancer moved overwhelmingly fast, Aaron’s health turned from bad to worse in a blink of an eye. I quickly realized I needed to find a support group for my 10 year old daughter.
I work in a local school district and first approached many counselors that I am friends with and they really did not know anything for my daughter in our area. I decided to turn to the internet and “googled” counseling groups for children. The first thing that popped up was the Cancer Support Community North Texas (CSCNT). I searched some more and found out that the Tarrant County Clubhouse (one of three local DFW clubhouses) was just 2 miles from my house!
In April, we found out my husband’s tumors were, for the 2nd time, growing out of control – one the size of a liter bottle attached to his colon. At this point, I was in a panic and called the Tarrant County Clubhouse. Cyndy, the CSCNT Program Director, immediately scheduled me for a new member meeting set for the very next day. I was very nervous but knew I needed to find an outlet for my daughter. Cyndy was very calm and welcoming as we went through the two hour meeting. She acknowledged my fears and immediately started sharing resources to help our family out during my husband’s illness.
As we talked, she shared with me that the clubhouse was not just for patients (past and present) and their children, but also for the caregiver! She immediately placed me in a caregivers support group that met two days later. I had no time to back out- and that was the best thing for me. The first meeting was very awkward for me because all I wanted to do through this whole health crisis (and in life) was “blend in.” I have been attending group now since April and every time gets easier. I feel more at “home” with my group. We come together to share our celebrations, struggles and look for hope and new ideas when we are out of them ourselves. I have found that my caregivers group has become a necessity for my “self-care” through this cancer battle with my husband. He too has a group for his metastasized cancer. After many months off of work, he has been able to return full time and is not always able to go to his weekly meetings. Any time we are at CSCNT’s Tarrant County clubhouse (for everything from Noogieland to the social events) his fellow group members go out of their way to find him and catch up with him. This little act of kindness has given him strength to fight through the horrible side effects of him immunotherapy.
My daughter has also been able to become an active member through CSCNT’s Noogieland program, devoted to children affected by a cancer diagnosis. This summer, in the midst of an almost month-long hospital stay at UT Southwestern, she was able to attend the summer day camp that totally took her mind off the stresses of her daddy’s disease. It truly was a Godsend to our family.
Of all the wonderful things that have happened to us after joining Cancer Support Community, the best thing has been reconnecting with families from our local schools (I have worked in our local school district for 18 years) that have been impacted by cancer and supporting each other through this journey has been a Godsend. I now am a huge advocate for this organization and program of support… I share information with anybody and everybodyto help them along in their cancer journey find the right support they need at the right time for their families.
Membership at Cancer Support Community is completely free of charge.
To learn more about becoming a member, please call (214) 345-8230 or email Info@CancerSupportTexas.org.