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Local Cancer Survivors Help Each Other Through Support and Solidarity

Women of Living with Breast and GYN Cancer Support Group at Lowell General Hospital Contribute to National Quilt Exhibit


May 15, 2009 - Lowell, Mass. - For some members of the Living with Breast and GYN Cancer Support Group at Lowell General Hospital, it was a labor of love. For others, it was an act of hope, faith, and courage. This myriad of emotions by cancer survivors all came together in April as the group put the final stitches on a handcrafted quilt to donate to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC). The quilt, which will be part of the NCCC's Cancer/HPV Quilt Project, is a traveling exhibit showcased throughout the country.

Meg Lemire-Berthel, MSW, an oncology social worker who runs several support groups at the Cancer Center at Lowell General Hospital, said the quilt project was a special form of therapy for members of "Living with Breast and GYN Cancer". The free group offers education and resources for women with Breast or Gynecological Cancers and is open to anyone, regardless of where they are treated.

"Everyone brought in squares and designed them as a sort of message board. This quilt is a ‘story quilt'; it helps women experiencing any type of cancer express their emotions." The support group, funded by Lowell General Hospital's TeamWalk for CancerCare, is has many longtime members that have been coming for over 10 years.

Billerica resident Sandy Padgett has been attending the support group since the winter of 2000. Diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2000, Sandy found comfort in the project and in making something beautiful out of something that isn't - dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

"It's nice to share your thoughts with other people facing different types of cancer," said Sandy. "Cancer is cancer - it doesn't matter what part of the body it's in. This project allows us to express our feelings and reach out to women all over the country who are going through the same set of emotions."

This reaching out and sense of support is why Sandy still attends the group, even though she has been cancer-free for years. She has no family in the immediate area, and considers the women in her group some of her closest friends. Sandy's block in the quilt has some uplifting advice for everyone, "A good laugh is sunshine in your heart. Every day is a new journey."

For more information about the support group at Lowell General Hospital, visit us online or call 978-937-6142. To learn more visit: NCCC Quilt Project.

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Photos: Members of the Breast and GYN Cancer Support Group working on and displaying their contribution to the National Cervical CancerSandy Padgett quilting with support groupBreast Cancer Support Group Coalition. Sandy is in green.

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