What Is “Survive, Thrive & Be Fit”? (Part 1 of ?)

What Is “Survive, Thrive & Be Fit”? (Part 1 of ?)

Note from Tim: I have been working on this article for a few weeks now. I feel it is an important story... so I plan to give it the time and attention that I think it deserves (even though, in the end, it may be far more information than most of you really care to know). I’ve decided to break it into several articles. Here is the first in a series of articles.

So... what is “Survive, Thrive & Be Fit!”? Well... it’s not really an exercise program (although you can get plenty of exercise) and it’s not a typical or traditional support group (although you can get plenty of support)!

Perhaps instead of explaining what it is, it would be best for me to start by explaining how it evolved.

I recall the very first support group I attended shortly after my personal cancer diagnosis in 1992 at the age of 29 (which was facilitated by Mary Schueller, RN, SCCCF Board Member who remains active with us even after her retirement). I found great comfort and understanding during those sessions, despite being the youngest in attendance, not just by years but by decades. For the next eight years, as I continued along my personal cancer journey, I attended a myriad of support groups. When I couldn’t find one that suited me, I started one myself (prior to starting this work).

Be assured, my interest and involvement in support groups was not because I was lacking support in my life. I am the product of two of the most amazingly loving, and supportive parents and have three wonderful siblings who (along with their spouses/significant others and families) have supported me every step of the way.

Then I met a beautiful woman, just a few weeks prior to my diagnosis, who would be a wonderful source of support to this newly-diagnosed cancer patient and with whom I have since enjoyed 28 years of marriage! I certainly could never be bitter about my life after cancer as it has included Shel and the three wonderful children she brought into my life, children who have now grown into amazing adults and have brought us great joy (and a couple of grandkids)! 😊

As for friends, again I have plenty good ones, including a very special group of folks known as the Brat City Training Club. I will never forget the morning I missed a fun run with this group while being hospitalized for complications of chemotherapy. My phone rang. “Look outside your window!” When I did, I saw my “Brat Buddies” looking up and giving me a Brat Grunt – “Uuuhhh, uuuhhh, uuuhhh!!!” It felt as good as any medicine could feel!

And then, of course, there is my oncologist – Dr. Matthews and the amazing staff at this clinic (both then and now) who provided amazing care for my body, my mind, my heart, and my spirit! The information and support I got from them during appointments, while sitting in the treatment room, and in response to every question (from the silly to the serious) was priceless.

Despite all of this support throughout my cancer journey that would involve multiple recurrences and an allogeneic bone marrow transplant, there were times when it just wasn’t enough. My family loved me relentlessly, but they didn’t always understand. My friends cared deeply, but there was only so much they could do. My doctor and nurses gave me the best care, but they had many others to attend to.

Who better to turn to than others who have “been there, done that”? Sure, all of our situations and stories are unique and we must each find our own way along this journey, but there is no reason to start from scratch, no reason to completely reinvent the wheel!

I turned to fellow cancer survivors with the hope of finding what I needed to survive. I found so much more! I found support, encouragement, and inspiration to thrive! But the greatest reward was (and still is) spending time with some amazing individuals!

As a result, I was (and always will be) a strong proponent of peer-to-peer support groups. When given the opportunity to join this clinic in March of 2000, the very first thing I did was introduce the TLC (Together we Live with Cancer) Survivorship Sessions along with a newsletter as part of a supportive community.

If you are a cancer patient/survivor and you’ve never attended a support group, I encourage you to join us... Even if you feel you have plenty of support and don’t think you need it. There are plenty of things in our lives that we don’t need but that will make our lives better! TLC is that for some... and it may be for you. But the only way to find out is to give it a try!

In the next part of this series I will explain how Survive, Thrive & Be Fit grew out of the TLC Supportive Community!

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