3 gay men who have had cancer will be peer facilitators for monthly support group
A new cancer support group, organized by the American Cancer Society specifically for the LGBT community, holds its first meeting on Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.
Called “Dialogue: A GLBT Cancer Support Group,” the meetings will be under the direction of a trained ministerial professional in an ongoing effort to provide individuals the opportunity to help cancer patients, cancer survivors, their families and friends better understand how to live with cancer.
It will be led by three peer facilitators: Jim LeCroy, Robert Voelke and Fred Ward. All three are cancer survivors, and all three said they know first-hand the importance of having someone to talk to.
LeCroy was diagnosed with throat cancer in the summer of 1998. His oncologist told him his cancer was in Stage 3 and quickly approaching Stage 4, and mapped out a “battle plan” that involved radical surgery followed by radiation treatments. “I was absolutely petrified,” LeCroy said.
So when Jamie Sloan, community manager for the American Cancer Society, approached him about participating in the LGBT support group, LeCroy was interested immediately.
“This is something I wish I had available to me when I was going through the issues with my cancer, and I know that my partner, Jerry, would have liked to have had it available as well,” LeCroy said.
Ward was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus when he was 58. “The impact of hearing that was overwhelming at the time,” Ward recalled. “The first thing I wanted to know was what this meant to me. I had heard what the doctor said and I knew what needed to be done. But there was so much more I needed, so many questions I needed answered.”
Ward said he immediately shared his fears with family, friends, co-workers and his fellow church members. Then he went to the American Cancer Society Web site to learn as much as he could about the illness he faced.
Three weeks after his diagnosis, Ward underwent an esophogectomy and, fortunately, needed no chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Voelke was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His doctors caught the cancer early and he made a rapid recovery following a treatment technique that froze the cancer and surrounding areas, preventing the disease from spreading.
“I would recommend anyone facing this challenge visit the American Cancer Society Web site or call them,” Voelke said. “Starting this new support group for the GLBT community here in Dallas will offer a supportive environment for anyone facing this challenge who needs support from other people who have been through the same thing.”
Sloan said that statistically 95,098 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Texas. About 8,423 of those will be in Dallas County. “Cancer is definitely something that affects everyone,” Sloan said. “The statistics are alarming, with one in every two men and one in every three women being diagnosed with cancer. We have made huge strides, but there is still more work to do.”
Sloan said there are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most are treatable and research is constantly improving treatment for all cancers, he said.
For more information about the American Cancer Society, go online to www.cancer.org or call 1-800-ACS-2345.
For more information about Dialogue: GLBT Cancer Support Group call the Rev. Rusty Baldridge at 214-351-1901 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Jamie Sloan at 214-819-1221 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 8, 2006.