Alert

Published on February 08, 2022

Pardee UNC Health Care Cancer Program Invites Patients and Caregivers to Join Cancer Support Group, “Between Friends at Pardee”

The Pardee UNC Health Care Cancer Program invites cancer patients and caregivers alike to join Between Friends at Pardee, a cancer support group that has been in existence for eight years. The support group offers a space and time for participants to speak freely in a supportive setting as they deal with the sometimes overwhelming emotions that a cancer diagnosis brings. Between Friends meets on the third Thursday of every month from 3:00 - 5: 00 p.m. Currently, the meetings are being held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Patients and/or caregivers interested in participating in the support group should call or email Cancer Care Navigator Leann Noakes at (828) 698-7317 or leann.noakes@unchealth.unc.edu.

Many cancer patients and caregivers will likely be familiar with Between Friends leader and facilitator, Leann Noakes, a registered nurse and cancer care navigator at Pardee Cancer Center. “Our group provides a safe environment for patients to talk to each other and discuss sensitive issues and to know they are not alone on this journey,” said Noakes. “Being able to talk to others who’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are going through similar treatments is invaluable.” Noakes also notes that the group welcomes caregivers as they can often bear the burden of worry and stress as they navigate a cancer diagnosis for their loved ones.

“Talking and sharing with people who are going through a similar situation has really helped me both mentally and emotionally,” said Ted Lizotte, 60, of Maggie Valley. Lizotte, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June 2020, participates in Between Friends at Pardee. Lizotte, who described himself as an active person, said that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery took a toll on him. “By the time I finished treatment, I could hardly walk up the stairs,” Lizotte said. “I was physically and mentally exhausted and I was to the point that I didn’t want to do anything with anyone.”

After starting immunotherapy, Lizotte said he was finally able to begin to make peace with his diagnosis. “You accept the fact you have this crazy disease and you make the best of every day that you feel good,” he said. “I started to focus on the things I could do, rather than what I couldn’t.” It was at this point that Lizotte joined Between Friends at Pardee and met others who were experiencing much of what he’d been through. “The group has helped me to relate to someone who is also going through a hard time,” he said. “Cancer can be so isolating and this group has helped me feel like I am not alone.” Lizotte said joining the group has gotten him beyond the “woe is me” stage of his journey and helped him realize there are a lot of people out there who are dealing with cancer. 

The group sessions are structured in a variety of ways. Sometimes a featured speaker discusses a specific topic about cancer diagnosis and treatment or a representative from a local organization will share information about their services. Some meetings include hands-on educational sessions that highlight coping exercises like Tia Chi or yoga.

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