Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Support Group Shares Hope Members Count on Each Other

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Support Group Shares Hope Members Count on Each Other

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan D. Brandenburg, Shorelines correspondent

Last year, Ben was in a hospice waiting to die. Last week, Ben played 18 holes of golf.

Ben has oral pharyngeal cancer and, like several other members of the Beaches Cancer Support Group, he's a hospice "dropout."

"The group has taught us to be proactive about Ben's cancer," said his wife, Dot. "In addition to sharing great advice and information, we share hope."

The support group has been sharing hope since it first met on March 24, 1999, at the Florida Cancer Center in a building behind Baptist Medical Center-Beaches.

"Our third anniversary is here and the five original members are still with us," said Terry DiNuzzo, the group's facilitator. "Sometimes there are as many as 25 at meetings now."

DiNuzzo, director of the counseling center at the University of North Florida, is a clinical psychologist who lives in Jacksonville Beach.

"I never realized what a profound effect this group would have on my life," she said. "I moved to Florida to be closer to my dad, and it was just a miracle that I had learned so much about cancer from them when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma two years ago. He died in June of last year, but facilitating this group helped both of us through his illness and gave me the strength to cope with his death."

At a recent meeting, 17 members, using only their first names, introduced themselves to a newcomer by describing their cancer and their reasons for being there. They said they use only their first names because many are in business and they don't want to be affected by some people's discrimination against people with cancer.

The mixture of men and women of all ages have types of cancer that are as diverse as the group: Ovarian, lung, uterine, prostate, colon, brain and breast cancer survivors shared stories of their triumphs and defeats, their financial woes and family problems. …

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