Helping Others: Comfort Club, A Ministry for Women with Breast Cancer
At Firefly Sisterhood, we have learned that women who face a breast cancer diagnosis are drawn to varying methods for creating emotional healing and often take it a step further in the desire to use their experience to serve others. Some, for example, find integrative health practices to be powerful. One of our Guides, Pam Lampert, experienced healing at Pathways, a health crisis resource center in Minneapolis, and now teaches their Renewing Life course. Other women find advocacy to be a source of meaning. Local spokeswoman, Christine Norton, chose advocacy for breast cancer research funding and access for all to evidence-based screening and treatment when she co-founded the Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition. Another one of our Guides, Diane Erickson, has made it her mission to encourage women to build relationships in a faith-based gathering of survivors. Here is the story of how Diane’s breast cancer led to the origin of the Comfort Club.
“You are not going to do this alone.” These were the words that Diane held onto following a breast cancer diagnosis in May of 2006. Spoken to her by a friend of a friend with whom she had been connected, these words brought Diane great comfort. That new friend, Martha Greiner (also a Firefly Sisterhood guide), had been diagnosed a year and a half prior. Martha knew firsthand the power of being encouraged by another survivor, so she showed up at Diane’s house the week after surgery to let her know she was not alone. At that same time, Diane reconnected with an acquaintance, Maggie Valenta, who had surgery for breast cancer on the same day Diane was diagnosed. Soon these three met at Maggie’s house and discovered so much support in sharing their stories and in praying for each other that they decided to meet again.
In anticipation of their next gathering, Maggie wrote Cancer Club on her calendar. When her teenage daughter saw this, she exclaimed, “You cannot call this the Cancer Club! Who would want to be a member of that?!” They tossed around a few names for this new support group: breast friends, bosomless buddies, the young and the breastless. When Maggie read a devotion on the topic of comfort based on the verses from 2 Corinthians, she knew she had found the perfect name: the Comfort Club.
From the start, this group was about offering comfort—the same comfort they had received through their Christian faith. That comfort flowed, and by word of mouth, the group grew. And now, almost ten years later, the group that began with those three survivors has grown to more the 160 members. Some of the women attend the monthly gatherings, and all stay connected through emails from Diane. At their meetings, they read a devotion, new members share personal stories, and survivors offer support and encouragement. They always close with prayer. Some meetings have a topic, other times they invite a guest speaker, but always there is the shared spirit of providing support and comfort. While the group is faith-based, it is not necessary to be a Christian to be a member; all women who have faced breast cancer are welcome.
Firefly Sisterhood and the Comfort Club are fortunate to serve a number of women in tandem, each offering a unique style and method of support for women in the Twin Cities who have faced a breast cancer diagnosis. At the same time, both organizations share the similar mission of ensuring that no woman faces breast cancer alone.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the Comfort Club, Diane would love to tell you more: firstname.lastname@example.org