Fighting Angels Abreast luncheon puts the emphasis on support

Annual event raises money for breast cancer research, comfort

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Phyllis Michaelson, of Fort Dodge, looks over several items for sale from Rush Hour Clothing Co. at the Fighting Angels Abreast luncheon Tuesday.

Members and supporters of the Fighting Angels Abreast Dragon Boat team gathered in Fort Dodge for its annual May Day luncheon Tuesday.

The luncheon was held at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn and Suites, 1518 Third Ave. N.W., and featured speakers, a fashion show, door and raffle prizes, and information about both the team as well as support systems for those battling cancer and their families.

Guests heard from two representatives from the cancer center at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center on the services and programming they offer.

Patty Grossnickle, nurse coordinator, said the groups offer an “uplifting atmosphere to help those affected by cancer.”

“It’s a place to cope with the side effects of treatment and also post-treatment side effects,” Grossnickle said. “Participants are able to share their unique experiences with each other and know what it’s like to battle cancer.”

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Patty Grossnickle, left, nurse coordinator, and Emily McCollum, patient navigator, speak during the Fighting Angels Abreast luncheon Tuesday afternoon. Both work for the UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center Cancer Center.

Those involved in these groups often form strong friendships, which creates a support system for those battling cancer.

“Through these connections, they have supported one another through their cancer journey,” she said. “They have sat together with each other in the chemo room, driven one another to and from appointments or to the hospital, and they have sat together by the bedside when a friend’s cancer journey has come to an end.”

Emily McCollum, patient navigator, focused on two groups; C Club and the Women’s Cancer Support Group.

C Club is co-ed, while the women’s group is exclusively for women.

“(C Club) is a unique co-ed community that balances fun and education for people of all ages,” she said. “Our Women’s Cancer Support Group is an opportunity for the ladies affected by cancer to meet and connect.”

Various topics are discussed in the groups, including advanced care planning, drug interactions, palliative care, benefits of acupuncture and chiropractic care, as well as nutrition and healthy living.

Group members also go on outings together. McCollum said they’ve hosted bonfires at members’ homes, a holiday party every year, and have visited the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, the Fort Museum and Frontier Village and the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend.

Additionally, the women’s group members have been making fleece blankets for a project that provides blankets to cancer patients.

Another avenue of support, McCollum said, is Cancer Connections.

“The vision of the program is for cancer patients to receive emotional support,” she said.

That program is not just for patients, but families as well.

“In life, sometimes you need someone simply to be there,” McCollum said. “Not to fix anything or do anything in particular, but just let us feel we are cared for and supported.”


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