A hope sanctuary
CTCA opens doors to support group lounge
by Bradley Hartsell
From the outside, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern in Newnan is ever-expanding, adding to its building that opened in 2012.
On the inside, though, CTCA hit a milestone Friday, pleasing its dedicated cancer survivors and caregivers: the opening of the Cancer Fighters Space.
On the second floor, above the lobby of CTCA’s main building, is a lounge room to further empower a support group, started by and for CTCA patients in 1990 in Tulsa, OK. To commemorate the opening of the room in Newnan’s hospital, speakers ranging from CTCA of Newnan President Anne Meisner to members of Cancer Fighters spoke to a group there to celebrate its opening weekend.
Headlined by the grand opening of the lounge room, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with receptions, exploring downtown Newnan (many patients are from outside of Newnan) and having a worship service. All of the events allowed for one big inaugural support meeting to commemorate Cancer Fighters opening and the cause it provides.
“Cancer Fighters gives us [survivors] hope, makes us a family,” said Reggie Franklin, who went on to cut the ribbon commemorating the room. “We’re not doctors or scientists, but we have the will to live, to fight for each other until there’s a cure.”
Franklin, along with Jeanine Patten-Coble of Pink Houses of Hope and Ernest Winthrow, all spoke about CTCA’s belief that treating cancer involves the “mind, body and soul.” To CTCA doctors, survivors and caregivers, treating cancer goes beyond only medicine, such as chemotherapy. They believe a strong mind and spirit contributes to the healing of the body.
“Cancer Fighters expresses a state of action, and that’s what you have to do with cancer. You have to fight, you have to take action,” said Patten-Coble.
By taking action, Cancer Fighters has given its members a forum to connect with survivors and caregivers. By connecting, without doctors and medical professionals in the forum, Cancer Fighter members are encouraged to tell personal stories, give opinions and ask questions. The energy among all of the survivors and caregivers meeting together is yet another link CTCA’s chain of personal empowerment, of which all involved – doctors, patients and families – hold in high regard.
Roger and Lynn Favreau have been Cancer Fighters for nearly four years. Though they weren’t there to speak or present, they were there to see the unveiling of the lounge room. While there, they ran into their friends, Janet and Bill Wilson. Unplanned, it was the room’s first support meeting, which they hope contributes healing to Janet Wilson’s recent neurological surgery for a brain tumor. They all spoke glowingly of being involved in Cancer Fighters.
“It gives me me more opportunities to meet with more and give them hope,” said survivor Roger Favreau, who was there with caregiver and wife, Lynn. “That’s my role as a Cancer Fighter.”
Reverend Chip Gordon, director of pastoral care at CTCA at Southeastern, prayed with the inaugural members of Cancer Fighters and added to the sentiments expressed by both the Favreaus and the Wilsons.
“This place inspires strength, courage and hope,” Gordon said.
Hope, whether praised from Meisner or Franklin, means as much to the Cancer Fighters supporters as the medical treatments.
“This is an incredible new chapter in the Cancer Fighters story. In 1990, the core group of folks wanted to give back, so they started Cancer Fighters,” said Meisner. “Nearly 25 years later, Cancer Fighters is a movement, with 10,000 members.”
One of those members, Ernest Winthrow, had praise for the progress he’s made under CTCA and saw even more hope for the future.
“What does Cancer Fighters represent to me?” he rhetorically asked. “It is the voices of many coming together into one. And it most of all says, the best is yet to come.”