By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
One-half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer not only takes a physical toll on those with the disease, but also an emotional and mental toll on the victims and their loved ones.
The Cherokee Cancer Support Group, originally formed in 1998, now has a new place to help cancer victims and their families. The Safe Haven House, located at 40 Goose Creek Road in the Birdtown Community, officially opened on Wednesday, Nov. 2 with a reception and open house.
“We service cancer clients with all kinds of needs like nutritional supplements, wheelchairs, and we also fit women that have had breast cancer with mastectomy items like breast forms,” said Flora Bradley who works with the support group. “We also provide financial assistance for travel to Duke and treatment centers.”
Bradley and Debbie Sexton will perform fittings for mastectomy items and wigs at the House on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Now that we have this house, we’ll be able to expand what we do,” said Sexton.
Bradley related that all of the fittings are free. “Most women are the backbones of their family and wouldn’t think of spending $300 on themselves.”
She said the items such as breast forms and wigs help the women immensely. “They feel better about themselves. It helps with their mental and emotional state.”
Volunteers also donate handmade crocheted hats for the patients.
But, the group is certainly not just for women. Bradley related that there are currently 11 men in the group.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks was at Wednesday’s open house and said that the Tribe currently gives an annual contribution to the Support Group, but he said that the possibility of setting up a foundation could provide more help.
“We’ve have really good successes with the (Madison Hornbuckle) Children’s Cancer Foundation this year,” he said. “And, I want to see us establish an event that motivates people and gets them to the table so that we can possibly establish a foundation of some sort that would help general cancer victims.”
“We don’t ever want to use the funds, but there’s circumstances obviously where we have to, and I think with the success that we’ve seen in the Children’s Cancer Foundation, I want to see that same cycle here.”
The Safe Haven House was donated to the Support Group by the Tribe which remodeled the entire building.
“We held this house for a long time,” said Chief Hicks. “Housing actually redid it and they were going to turn it into emergency housing, and something just told me ‘sit on it’ and we did.”
“We held it for the right reason,” he told the staff on Wednesday. “You guys landed in the right place.”
Bradley said that everyone in the area is welcome at the House and the group. “We service anyone within the five counties. We get grants from churches to service non-Indians.”
For more information on the Cherokee Cancer Support Group, call 497-0788.