Woman to start cancer support group

Published 6:55 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

Julie Overby of Verbena knows how cancer can affect one’s family and personal life. Having been twice diagnosed with breast cancer at a relatively young age, she is all too familiar with the physical and mental exhaustion the disease brings.

Overby remembers the pale look on her daughter’s face after she broke the news of her first diagnosis. But even then she knew that life had to go on no matter what. Through family, friends, faith and the support of other cancer survivors, she found a world of loving support.

For this reason, Overby wants to start an American Cancer Society support group here in Chilton County.

“There are so many services the American Cancer Society offers for free. All you have to do is ask,” she said.

Overby wants to make cancer patients aware of programs like “Look Good…Feel Better,” in which trained cosmetologists help female patients deal with the side effects of treatment such as hair loss. The program teaches patients beauty techniques to enhance their appearance and boost their self-esteem.

Another program provides transportation to treatment, and yet another offers free or low-cost overnight lodging for out-of-town cancer patients undergoing treatment.

“This is stuff that can help you,” Overby said.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2005, at age 39. She had both breasts removed and underwent reconstruction surgery. Because of her age, doctors wanted to give her four rounds of chemotherapy.

While recovering, Overby attended a support group at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Virginia, where her husband, William, was stationed at the time. The American Cancer Society’s support program is called TOUCH (Today Our Understanding of Cancer is Hope).

The family moved home to Chilton County in 2006. In spring 2008, she started having pain in her left arm. The lymph nodes in her neck had swollen to almost 10 centimeters. Shortly after came the second diagnosis, and she had to quit her job.

Upon finding that there was not a support group in Chilton County, Overby felt led to start one.

“I thought there’s got to be a reason I’m getting this again, so maybe I’m supposed to do something with it,” she said.

The first meeting is set for April 14 from 1-2 p.m. at the Chilton County Extension Office. The plan is to hold meetings once a month, depending on the response.

For more information, contact Overby at 280-0272.