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'Voices of Hope': Cottage Grove-area women to launch second breast cancer support video

Diane Davies (from left) of Denmark Township, came up with the idea for "Voices of Hope" cancer support videos with the help of friends Claire Mathews, Candy Wieller and Laurie Schray, all members of the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

People who have been told they have cancer never forget the day they got the diagnosis and the fear they felt. The local women behind the "Voices of Hope" videos want women with breast cancer to know there is hope and they are not alone.

More than 6,000 copies of their video have been distributed because nurses, doctors and clinics saw the need to help newly diagnosed women with information and support.

Diane Davies, a Bush Leadership Fellow, sowed the seeds for the video and her friends in the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group helped make the seeds grow.

While medical caregivers are interested in getting the best help and treatment for their patients, they can never say "I know how you feel," because they don't know.

"They haven't walked the walk," Davies said in a recent interview with Claire Mathews and Candy Wieller, both of Hastings, who are support group co-leaders and Cottage Grove resident Laurie Schray.

They said those who watched "Voices of Hope" had one question when it was over: "Why don't you make a video for the family members and caregivers? They need support, too."

Davies, and her support group friends, took the matter to heart and the result is a second video, called "Voices of Hope, Family and Friends," which will be premiered on Oct. 23.

The second video features 14 breast cancer survivors, including two men, and their significant caregivers who talk about how they coped with grief, fear, surgery and treatment. There is a portion of the video at the end, in which 10 of the participants show, from the waist up, the results of their surgeries. Viewers can only watch it if they click on the additional material.

It's daring, but quickly answers the question, "What will my wife look like?" It's a question most partners never give voice to.

Questions about sexuality are also addressed in the video. Some women are shunned by partners, which results in divorce.

Another way the women said they know both videos are helping people is the comments left on their website, where there is also information on the support group that women who have cancer or are recovering are welcome to attend.

"There's pages of comments about how people were helped," Davis said.

Among the agencies using "Voices of Hope" videos are Allina Clinics, Abbott Northwestern hospital, Johns Hopkins and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Davis also wrote a journal about her diagnosis, treatment and everyday experiences with cancer. After reading it, her daughter urged her to publish it, which she did, as "From There to Here."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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