Horsham Friends Abreast is an informal, supportive and caring group that celebrates its 21st year in October. The group was founded by a nurse, the late Pat James, and has grown to support 30 members. Group coordinator Judy Colyer shares how the group helps them.
At the beginning of each year, we sit down together and develop our annual program – including deciding on our events and guest speakers – which we then send to BCNA and circulate among members. So far this year, we’ve had some fantastic guest speakers, including a laughter therapist, qigong wellness and healing session, as well as a visit from our local cancer resource nurse.
Our group meets on the first Friday of each month and members bring along finger food to share. We set up a small committee last year with a coordinator, two treasurers and three general members. We also all take turns facilitating meetings. Creating and sharing roles helps members feel like they are making a contribution.
While our group is informal, we set an agenda for each meeting and circulate the treasurer’s report to all members so everyone knows what’s happening. We received a donation from a local business and a grant to purchase a computer, which has helped us a lot with our administration.
Each month we take out a free ad in the Wimmera Mail Times to promote the group and to let people know when our next meeting is and who our guest speaker will be. Our group is also listed on BCNA’s website.
If one of our members is unwell or unable to attend a meeting, Horsham Friends Abreast reaches out by calling them, delivering a meal, or sending them a card or a handmade gift.
Our annual ABC (Australian Breast Cancer) Day is coming up on 26 October. Each year we have a Mini-Field of Women in the courtyard of the Rural City Council Offices. The event is opened with a speech from the Mayor and a minute silence. The Mini-Field of Women is followed by a lunch with guest speakers. This year we will be hearing from Cancer Council Victoria.
We have women in the group who have secondary breast cancer, which can sometimes be challenging for those who were diagnosed many years ago and who continue to attend for the friendships and social aspects, but we manage this well. While Horsham Friends Abreast is a cancer support group, it’s also a general support group where we can talk about lots of other things that have nothing to do with cancer. The focus is on fun and fellowship, on making our meetings enjoyable and on benefiting our members.
Our group really cares for each other and we welcome new members. We can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.