A network of hope

Cancer support groups raises funds, provides friendships

Hope for Today has been helping cancer patients in Blount County for 11 years, and founder Charlene Walker said that even while undergoing treatments herself, she’s thankful for the opportunity to serve other cancer survivors.

“At Hope for Today, we say that when you first hear the words from your doctor, ‘You have cancer,’ you become a survivor,” Walker said.

Hope for Today provides psychological, education and social services for cancer patients and their families and friends at no charge. The charity enables cancer patients to socialize with others who are newly diagnosed and those who have been cancer survivors for 30 to 40 years.

Hope for Today averages 120 attendees at their monthly meetings, which provide education, moral support, friendship and prayer. The organization became a non-profit public charity in 2004 and is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Hope for Today developed and instituted Project Care, which gives assistance to cancer patients who are underinsured, uninsured, unemployed or otherwise needy, providing transportation to appointments and treatments, physical aid, utility payments, rent and mortgage payments, child care and medication payments. Through Project Care, the group has helped 124 cancer patients, spending a total of $43,271.

Walker founded Hope for Today after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. In January of 2007 she learned it had spread to both lungs, her liver and two bone areas, but she sees each day as a blessing. “I’m still alive. I could work 24/7 for Hope for Today. It’s such a God-given thing. I’m honored He chose me to do this,” she said. “I have so many wonderful volunteers who help in Hope for Today.”

In particular, Walker said members of Piney Grove Baptist where she is a member serve each month. “They’re all such wonderful helpers,” she said.

Hope for Today meets monthly. “We provide friendship, prayer and education. We’re currently averaging 120 in our meeting. Half are cancer survivors and some are going through treatment now,” she said.

The group is for both men and women and their families and friends.

“God has just blessed us tremendously. When I’m in the chemo room with other patients, I can accept this cancer as an assignment from heaven. I feel I’m a missionary for Hope for Today,” she said. “I keep a positive attitude, and I know tomorrow will be better. I do the best I can to display God’s glory to others.”

The next Project Care fundraiser bean supper is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 at First Baptist Church of Maryville Family Life Center. The Southern Gospel group The Partons will perform, as will the praise and worship group Essense of Praise.

This past April 25, Hope for Today hosted their spring fundraiser for Project Care. “We cleared $14,437 at the supper,” Walker said. “We had approximately 400 people attend. It was excellent.”

For more information, contact Walker at Three Times Breast Cancer Survivor, 422 Blockhouse Road Maryville, TN 37803. To call, phone 865-983-4948. Fax number is 865-984-7030. Email Walker at charlenewalker@hopefortoday.us.

Three of the Hope for Today survivors wanted to share their stories with Blount Today readers. Two are featured here and the third, by Bonnie Sullivan, is on the web at www.BlountToday.com, along with more pictures of the Hope for Today bean supper.

A Positive Attitude

By Kay Yearout Beason

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2008. It was stage 1, which means that it was in one place and hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes. I thank God that it hadn’t spread, for I had a brother (Dwight Yearout) who had passed away with cancer 16 years ago at the age of 42. My mother didn’t need to go through that again. After having 2 surgeries, my cancer doctors, Dr. Matthew McCarty and Dr. Petty, suggested 4 rounds of chemo and 33 radiation treatments. The chemo was 1 every three weeks which took 3 months to complete. I rested a few weeks before starting the radiation every day Monday through Friday. I was able to work and lead a half way normal life.

I’ve been doing a fundraiser for Hope for Today since last April. I am a Stanley Home Products representative, so I’ve been selling degreaser and kettle cleaners. My goal was $300, but I was able to donate $2,200 last year and $510 this year. I’m still selling today! The people in Blount County have been so good to support me. Again, I thank God. I also sold 221 tickets for the bean supper fundraiser last September and 314 tickets for the April fundraiser this year. I guess you could say that I’m a worker at anything I do. My mother taught me that!

The money that we make on fundraisers stays in Blount County. We help cancer patients going through treatments. I am on the advisory board which organizes the fundraisers. I’m also assistant to the Project Hope/Care which approves the application for the patients.

Hope for Today is a great group with which to be associated. On my first visit, I was a little nervous, however, Aldie King made me feel so welcome. We have a great group of women and men. We meet at Piney Grove Baptist Church the first Monday night of each month unless it’s a holiday. (you do not have to be a member of the church to attend the meetings). The women and even the men of Piney Grove give their time to help in the kitchen getting the food prepared for us at each monthly meeting. We even call one lady Chef Judy (Quinton). She herself was diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Cancer can strike anyone at anytime. You have to keep a positive attitude and live each day to the fullest. Only God knows the future.

Learning to trust the Lord beyond our own understanding

By Heather and Travis Potter

In September 2006, my world stopped. My sweet little 4 year old stopped walking, was in excruciating pain, and no one knew what was wrong! We spent two weeks at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital trying to determine what could be the matter, when finally, on my husband’s birthday, the news came in that Kyle had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL.

I knew in my heart of hearts that one day we would face a huge battle with Kyle’s health. I had known it since his birth. Travis thought I was crazy when I told him before we ever brought him home that he was going to be sick, very sick one day. I believe the Lord was laying the groundwork for me to be prepared for what was ahead. We spent one whole month in the hospital at ETCH and when we came home, Kyle still wasn’t walking and we were reeling with the treatment that was to come! For boys, it is 36 months of treatment - 3 years of chemo. He would be 8 by then!!

Our amazing family and church family at Piney Grove mobilized to our need immediately. I cannot tell you how loved and humbled I was with their service to our family. God touched us daily through their prayers, meals, calls, notes, tapes, pictures. It was as if they had a direct line to God and knew exactly what we needed! Even beyond our spiritual and emotional health, they saw to our financial need. What could have been crisis, was a blessing. Our community came out and raised enough money to allow me to be home with my little boy when he needed his mother most.

In November of 2009, we had the finish line in sight. I can tell you we have learned to trust the Lord beyond our own understanding. He knew exactly what we needed, who we needed, and, as He always does, He provided!! I can’t say that I don’t hold my breath every time Kyle complains of an ache or pain - I am still a Mommy -- but I do know that God loves him even more than I do, and He has a plan for his life and his illness, and this is just one bump in the road to Glory for Kyle. Kyle has been a trooper and is truly my Hero with Super Powers of endurance, belief, love and patience beyond his years!

If you are battling cancer or caring for someone who is, please trust the Lord. He knows and He hurts with you. He will hold you every step of the way. If you don’t know Him, please let me share His love with you. You can reach me by emailing heatherpotter77@gmail.com.

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