Brain cancer diagnosis prompts need for Chilliwack support group

Chilliwack woman hoping to bring people together in a casual way to discuss shared experiences with cancer

Paula Martens has created a cancer support group. The first meeting is set for Oct. 7 at 10 a.m. at Decades Coffee House.

When Paula Martens was diagnosed with brain cancer, she went through the full range of emotions.

“I have gone through grief, and loss and anger,” she says. “I was irate, on so many levels.”

But eventually the dark clouds parted, and she began to surrender to her new reality. Eventually, she learned to accept her diagnosis.

Today, six years later, she’s even learned to celebrate it.

“What a gift,” she says, smiling over a cup of tea at Decades Coffee Club. “I’m proof that you can get through it.”

She began having serious migraines in late 2008. and was sent for a CT scan to be followed almost with an MRI. The results determined she had developed astrocytoma, and she was booked for surgery, where most of the tumour was removed. Eventually, she also agreed to follow up treatments, and her follow up scans have shown no new growth.

Martens is now 38 and has survived cancer — “so far,” she points out.

“I feel like I’ve graduated from cancer university,” she says, laughing.

And now she’s built up the inner strength and determination to seek out others affected by cancer. She is starting up a cancer support group and is opening the door to anyone affected by the disease, whether they are going through treatment right now, or have been cancer free for many years. Her support group is open to family, friends, caregivers, anyone who feels open to joining in.

“I feel like I’m a cheerleader,” she said. “I have brain cancer and I’m still here, you can do this.”

She said it’s important to “not give too much power” to cancer, and she knows not everybody is in a place to join a support group.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this even two years ago,” she says, but she’s had six years post-surgery now to come to terms with cancer, and to gain her new, positive perspective.

“I know others can find peace in this,” she says. “And by peace that doesn’t mean everything is wonderful all the time but that you can find moments of peace.”

And she doesn’t shy away from the discussion of death.

“Eventually you look at death. You don’t get to win,” she says. “I have a zero per cent chance of survival.”

So she’s decided to make the best of it.

And Martens is well-equipped to be facilitating a support group, with several years as a trained drug and alcohol counsellor under her belt. She earned that training after cleaning up her own life, at the age of 23. But she says she’s not going to be counselling others. She just wants an informal place to gather and share common experiences.

“People want to be heard,” she said, and a support group can provide that outlet.

She had been attending a brain cancer support group in Vancouver, and enjoyed it, but is hoping to meet others, closer to home in Chilliwack.

Decades will be offering the meeting space in the Wellington Room, once a month.

The meetings will run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the first Wednesdays of each month, and there will be no fee to drop in. The first three meetings are set for Oct. 7, Nov. 4. and Dec. 2.

For more information or to connect with Martens directly, email chilliwackcancergroup@gmail.com.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Two people, dog escape house fire in Chilliwack

The early-morning blaze started around 6 a.m. on Third Avenue

Chilliwack Chiefs host Langley as Sardis Sports Complex opens

The BCHL teams will play a preseason game on the new ice sheet Aug. 29.

PHOTOS: Paintings return to Kilby for fifth annual festival

The Plein Air Festival will be taking place at the historic site all weekend

Envision Financial hosting barbecue fundraiser at Chilliwack’s Sardis Park to help fire victims

Residents of the Park Ridge apartment building are struggling in the wake of the devastating fire.

Cougar spotted in Seabird Island

Residents are asked to report all sightings to conservation

Chilliwack hosts police from around the world in specialized training

Members of the International Police Association hold training workshop in Canada for the first time

Young balance-bikers race in B.C.’s inaugural Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Spiritleaf is just the second private pot shop in the Fraser Valley

Most Read