Heidi Stokes is the facilitator of a new cancer support group in the Alberni Valley. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Port Alberni cancer survivor starts new support group

Alberni Valley Cancer Support Group meets on the first and third Monday of every month

A new support group has opened up in Port Alberni for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Heidi Stokes is the facilitator for the new Alberni Valley Cancer Support Group, which offers community-based peer support for people who have diagnosed with cancer. Stokes, who received training from the Canadian Cancer Society to become a peer support facilitator, has had cancer twice—Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was younger, and then radiation-induced breast cancer caused by her cancer treatment.

“I might not have needed a support group when I was 25,” she explained. “But now I wanted to be around people who had or have cancer. It’s different than when you talk to your friends.”

Facilitated by those with a shared experience of cancer, the group is meant to provide a safe, inclusive space for those dealing with cancer—or those who have dealt with cancer in the past.

“It’s a place where we can come together and be ourselves,” explained Stokes. “When you talk to family or friends, they want to tell you, ‘It’s gonna be okay,’ when you know it might not be okay.”

The group is intended to provide a sense of hope, comfort and encouragement, added Stokes.

“You can just be yourself,” she said. “You can just cry or yell or scream or curse the world that you’re going through this, and we will know what you mean.”

Confidentiality and privacy are utmost, said Stokes, and the group goes over this at the beginning of every meeting. The meetings usually clock in at around two hours of discussion, with coffee, tea and refreshments provided.

Port Alberni’s Canadian Cancer Society is currently in transition. The society was forced to close its office in 2018, and chairperson Bev Frolic stepped down in 2019. At this time, no one else has stepped up to take it on.

READ MORE: Canadian Cancer Society in Port Alberni closing doors

There are still volunteers, explained Stokes, who run the annual daffodil campaign and help out with the Tour de Rock. But the society is still working to re-establish a volunteer group for local fundraising.

“I couldn’t have done this without the ongoing support of the volunteers from the Port Alberni Canadian Cancer Society,” Stokes explained. “All of them have supported me along the way and all feel very strongly about being able to support our community.”

Cancer Support Group meetings take place on the first and third Monday of every month from 7-9 p.m. at Abbey Hall (located in the basement of Abbeyfield, 3839 Eighth Ave.). There is no admission charge, although Stokes usually provides a donation to Abbeyfield for the use of the room. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3.

There is no admission charge, although Stokes usually provides a donation to Abbeyfield for the use of the room. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3.

Those who want more information about the meetings, or who are interested in volunteering, can visit cancer.ca or contact Stokes at 250-720-9204.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Cancer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tour de Rock alumni ride through Port Alberni

Event was scaled down this year in response to COVID-19

Third brewery on the way for Port Alberni

Alberni Brewing Company hopes to open in early 2021

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Port Alberni long-term care home gets new bath chair

Westhaven residents say thanks to WCGH Foundation for donation

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing 43-year-old man

Maxime Ouellet is known to camp in wooded areas around Port Alberni

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read