SUPPORT: Bowen Stoma and Cancer Support Group members are happy to now have a permanent meeting place. 
Front: Leslie Griffen, Noel Lawth, Desley Lawth
Back: Maree Digman, Ambrose Digman, Natasha Leaver, Valerie McDonald and Rachael Walton.
SUPPORT: Bowen Stoma and Cancer Support Group members are happy to now have a permanent meeting place.  Front: Leslie Griffen, Noel Lawth, Desley Lawth Back: Maree Digman, Ambrose Digman, Natasha Leaver, Valerie McDonald and Rachael Walton. Jordan Gilliland

Council grant gives support group stability

FOR those struggling with the difficulty of cancer and stoma, life can sometimes feel very challenging. However a recent grant has allowed a local support group to find stability in their toughest times.

The Bowen Cancer and Stoma support group was formed in 2017 to provide support to locals who have been touched by cancer and stoma in any form.

Since its inception, the group has gone on to provide a network of friendship and support to members, becoming a crucial part of their wellbeing.

Natasha Leaver, social worker and facilitator of the support group, said that the members had formed a deep bond that has helped them in some of their darkest times.

"Cancer touches almost everyone in some shape or form, whether it be directly or indirectly, and sometimes people can feel very alone and lost,” Ms Leaver said.

"This group was formed to help those people and give them the support they need. We're not just emotional support though, we're also here to give practical support as members will assist others where they can.

"It's a happy place, people think cancer is sad but I've had some of the biggest laughs ever in this group. It's a real family and it means a lot to everyone here.”

The support group, which meets once a month, has struggled to find a regular meeting place with some months locations remaining uncertain right until meeting time.

Understanding the need for stability in trying times, Ms Leaver approached council for the funds to book a room at Bowen PCYC for 12 months. The motion was carried out unanimously in May providing the organisation with $720 for the rental of the room.  

Valerie McDonald, a stoma survivor, battled through major operations and the removal of a large majority of her large and small bowel and said that it was important for the groups wellbeing to now have a regular meeting point.

"We went through different locations in the last two years, at one time meeting at the hospital,” said Ms McDonald.

"But nobody wants to go back to a hospital if they're not sick, so having somewhere clean and new like the PCYC means the world to us.

"It's great to see that the council happily came on board to help us out. I love this group, I look forward to it every month.”

Breast cancer survivor, Leslie Griffen said that the support group is open to all new members who wish to come along, as long as they have a great sense of humour with them.

"We're a very friendly bunch of people, and we're open to anyone coming along,” said Ms Griffen.

"I absolutely love coming. You don't have to be personally affected by cancer or stoma, you could be a carer, or know someone with it to come. We welcome our doors to everyone.

"Just be prepared to have a good laugh, it's not all doom and gloom and we're here to show that.”

The group meets at the Bowen PCYC on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am until midday.


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