'Supporting cancer patients . . . Waimate Cancer Companion chairwoman Mavis Andrew looks back at the first annual report she wrote in early April. PHOTO: NATASHA PARRANT

by Natasha Parrant

A CANCER support group set up by a Waimate woman whose life was significantly impacted by the disease is going from strength to strength.

Waimate Cancer Companions, which was created to support local people’s cancer journeys, has increased in membership from seven in 2019 to 25.

Chairwoman and founder Mavis Andrew said she had not expected the group to grow as quickly as it had.

The companion group gave people the opportunity to communicate with and have the support from other people facing cancer, she said.

Mrs Andrew has had her own battles with cancer. She has had cancer on five occasions and has had radiation treatment three times.

And her husband Ross Andrew died of cancer last year.

“He’s at peace now,” Mrs Andrew said.

While the couple had been supported when they had cancer, others felt lonely and worried about what was to come, she said.

It was important for people to talk about their experience with others, so the group was created to encourage positivity and provide a space for people to share their experiences.

Members had come and gone since the group was established, but people still kept in touch with each other.

“You make friends within the group.”

Waimate had a cancer support group centre, but its aim was to mainly focus on fundraising, which went towards things such as groceries, she said.

The group had its first annual meeting in early April and Mrs Andrew said there was now an annual subscription of $5 for members.

The money would go towards travel costs for social events.

“We don’t always talk about cancer,” she said with a smile.

The wider Waimate community had also shown its support.

“We’ve had amazing support from the community, like donations. The Waimate Whitehorse Lions donated $200 to the group.

“That actually got us really going.”