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Cancer Companion program giving hope, support to community

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KENNEWICK, Wash. -- There's a newly formed group to support people in the community who have cancer, had cancer or knows someone with cancer.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church now has what are called Cancer Companions.

They're trained volunteers to help guide people in need of emotional support.

Carolyn McMurry is a woman in the program.

"It was a huge shock because I didn't know what to do," said Carolyn McMurry.

Doctors diagnosed Carolyn with an aggressive form of breast cancer almost two years ago.

“I was like a robot the first six months. I just did what I was told," said McMurry,

Doctors initially told Carolyn she had no chance of remission.

Now, Carolyn is getting treatment in Arizona and has a chance at beating cancer.

She tells Action news her journey wouldn't have been the same without the help of the Cancer Companions at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

"When I walked in their front door, I had a sense of hope," said McMurry.

Cancer Companions is a program started last November that provides spiritual support to those suffering.

“It gives you the tools to go out and handle life and life's situations and not stay in the problem, but you have a solution. Just because you get cancer doesn't mean that you have to roll over and die. There's a life to live," said McMurry.

"I knew instantly that this was where God was leading me to serve," said Lynn Moate.

Lynn Moate is one of those companions.

"My oldest daughter died at 37 from cancer. My closest sibling died of ovarian cancer at 55. I have a sister who's a breast cancer survivor. I recently had a sister who's been diagnosed and gone through treatment for lung cancer," said Moate.

Leone Cummins is also a companion deeply impacted by a loss in the family.

“I had a brother who died of cancer. My mom died of cancer also," said Cummins.

These are two companions who have helped Carolyn more than she can put into words.

"You need to experience it for yourself. I can't sit here and tell you how the group is or how it made me feel. You have to experience it for yourself," added McMurry.

Cancer Companions is in 22 states, and this is the only one in Washington so far.

The church might start another session this summer. If you're interested in training to be a companion or to join the group, click here.

Anyone can join and it's free.

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