Breast cancer is never an easy thing to endure, and for many, it’s a reality that they’d prefer to not dwell on.
Anyone who has beaten cancer, or anyone who is currently afflicted with it, understands that the road to recovery can be a full-time job in itself, causing the victim to constantly dwell on his or her unfortunate situation.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Support groups like Live, Laugh, Learn make an effort to ease that stress brought on by a cancer diagnosis and provide comfort to breast cancer patients.
“It’s been a very joyful, loving group of women,” said Lisa Flaig, who founded the group in 1998. “We laugh, we really do laugh and that’s something that we focus on. We want to live, we want to laugh and we also learn, but we implement the learning when we’re able to.”
The group itself is a breast cancer support group in essence, but much of the conversations that members have with each other are not about breast cancer at all. That isn’t to say that the topic is avoided altogether, but for the most part, these women talk about life and about each other rather than dwell on the harsh reality that is breast cancer.
“Someone might bring in an article that they’ve found or a story they’ve heard and share that,” said Sharon Cline, one of the groups first members, “but our meetings are about much more than that.”
And that is evident in the connections that these women form, a bond that can be seen even outside of meetings.
Live, Laugh, Learn is a group that comes together in the midst of very trying, emotional times in the lives of its members, and that support is what forges such a strong connection between the women who attend meetings.
“When we see each other on the street, it’s not uncommon for us to hug,” Cline said. “That’s how close we feel to each other. That bond is definitely there.”
For some members, the group serves as a essential part of the healing process. Some even rely entirely on the group as their only means of support.
Cline mentioned the case of a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after the loss of her husband.
Upon her diagnosis, she mentioned to Cline and other group members that they needed to keep Live, Laugh, Learn going because it was all she had.
“The biggest thing that we can offer to breast cancer patients is support,” Cline said.
Page 2 of 2 - Flaig’s decision to start this group actually stemmed from a similar circumstance. Following her recovery, Flaig felt isolated, because she wanted the opportunity to talk to other breast cancer survivors about their own personal journeys with the disease.
“I felt like I had nowhere to turn,” Flaig said. “Everyone around me was helpful and supportive of me, but I wanted the opportunity to chat with someone who has walked the walk. And that’s why I started the group.”
And now the group has grown past the Devils Lake city limits and continues to expand. Group members hail from other cities like Starkweather and Cando among others, and both Flaig and Cline would like to stress to all breast cancer patients and survivors that they are welcome to attend their meetings.
Live, Laugh, Learn meets next at 10 a.m. this Saturday at Park Manor, located at 715 13th Ave. NE in Devils Lake. Coffee and breakfast treats will be served, and a door prize will be up for contest to all those in attendance.