Pink Up: Coping with a cancer diagnosis

Pink Up: Coping with a cancer diagnosis
Photo credit: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Roughly one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.

One of the first steps that comes with that type of diagnosis is coping.

"People need to tell the story of what their feeling, of what they're going through," Wesley Merit Health Chaplin Roger Flowers said.

For people at Wesley Merit Health, one of the first places most visit is the chapel.

"My role is to begin to facilitate that in their life, help them process it when you talk about it, when you think about it and when you think about it out loud a lot of times, you're able to begin to work though the struggles and the fears and the anxiety that you're going through," Flowers said.

"First, I just turned it over to God," said Judy Gill, a Wesley Merit Health employee and cancer survivor.

Gill was diagnosed with breast cancer just over eight years ago.

"I think that's what help me cope the most is like, 'OK God, this is part of Judy's plan and I'll do what I need to do," Gill said.

Gill said she is grateful for her family, friends and co-workers support, in her coping process.

"I also had a lot of good family support, my husband, my parents are still living, they were right there with me and I have tons of nieces and nephews, siblings, and my co-workers they were always asking if I am okay or needed anything," Gill said. "If I hadn't have had them, I probably would have had many days of poor pitiful Judy, I had that support and it was people I can talk to."

One of the biggest parts of coping, is simply telling your story and having someone to listen.

"It's highly important and very important to have someone to walk with you and to be there for you, to express whatever feelings there may be anger, disappointment, frustration, joy, whatever the emotions may come out of that experience," Flowers said. "It's important to have someone to share that with."

Merit Health Wesley also has a monthly breast cancer support group that meets the second Wednesday of each month.

The next meeting is Feb. 8 at noon. For more information or to register, call 601-268-8125.