Brownwood’s Union Presbyterian Church is now hosting a cancer healing circle meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday evening of each month at its 700 Fisk St. location.
The meetings, moderated by Union pastor Doug House, aim to create a safe and supportive space for those living with or impacted by cancer. Inspired by the works of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen and the Commonweal organization, the meetings provide an opportunity to share.
“We’re here to listen,” explained House during Tuesday night’s meeting. “We’re not here to fix or correct.”
During the meetings, a small stuffed animal is passed between participants, indicating their moment to speak. On Tuesday, House read from a list of questions about cancer and cancer treatment, giving healing circle attendees a chance to describe their own experiences with the devastating and pervasive disease.
Brownwood resident Sheryl Arthur attended her first meeting on Tuesday night. Arthur was recently diagnosed with a very rare cancer called neuroendocrine tumors, a sort of “zebra disease” that is often mistaken for maladies like Crohn’s disease. (After the meeting, Arthur gave the Bulletin specific permission to discuss her diagnosis. All information shared during healing circles is kept confidential to protect patient privacy.)
Arthur said the meeting helped encourage her to keep fighting and to continue her goal of raising awareness of neuroendocrine cancer.
House said Remen’s book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” is what initially drew him to her works. “Part of her experience is, if you can get folks to talk about what’s going on in their lives, often times clues come out as to what might help in the healing process,” he said. “If you liken it to a support group or a 12-step meeting … we each have credibility with each other because we’ve been there and done that.”
House encouraged individuals with other illnesses, or sick friends or family members, to join the group if they believe it could be beneficial.
“If we can at least discuss a problem, even if we can’t solve it,” he said, “just talking about it can reduce the tension.”
Healing circle attendee and Union Presbyterian member Sue Jones said the circle was founded in the same spirit as Union’s weekly soaking prayer services, where attendees spend an hour in silent prayer and can give prayer requests to the church if desired. The soaking prayer service meets every Wednesday at 12 p.m.
The healing circle meeting will meet next on Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. The church can be reached for questions at 325-646-8569.