Life after cancer: Finding life in a support group

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the_young_and_the_widowed_finding_life_in_a_support_group.JPGBy Lyndie Charnock

Mike and Lyndie Charnock met, fell in love, and got married within a couple of years. Shortly after their 2 year wedding anniversary, Mike was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. During his battle, Mike quickly became known to family, friends and his team of doctors as 'El Toro'. He fought cancer head on, strong like a bull.  

Mike lost his battle with cancer in February of 2012. As Lyndie faces her new role as widow, she's learned that she's not alone, having found compassion and new friendships in her new normal with others who've lost their husbands and wives.

"I miss you when something really good happens, because you're the one I want to share it with. I miss you when something is troubling me, because you're the only one who understands me so well.  I miss you when I laugh and cry, because I know that you're the one who makes my laughter grow and my tears disappear. I miss you all the time, but I miss you the most when I lay awake at night and think of all the wonderful times we spent with each other for those were some of the best and most memorable times of my life." -- Author Unknown

It was raining. I hate driving in the rain. Something inside of me pushed me to go and move forward, to accept my "new normal."

I could hear the theme song to Cheers playing through my head: "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." Well, in this area, no one knew me or my name.  

I felt alone, though I had many family and friends for support. I yearned to find others who might understand the journey I've completed.  

I had recently discovered a new group to Houston -- a widow and widowers group, The Young and the Widowed, for "our" age in this "club." 

This was the first official meeting for us to step out from behind the screen and get to know each another and share our stories.

New friendships and unbreakable bonds
I pulled the door open and was welcomed with smiling faces and warm hugs. It was like we'd known each other before.

This group allowed us to come together in a neutral, vulnerable environment where we'd discover a sense of compatibility like no other.

Immediately we dove into conversation, discussing our new roles, hobbies and interests. It was a truly unforgettable experience -- one that opened up a door for new friendships and unbreakable bonds.

I walked away at the end of the night with new insight from others who also have traveled this path. I started to realize there's life after cancer.  

You're not alone

Our group's goal is to continue to spread the word to all or the widows and widowers in the Houston area. You're not alone. You don't have to be.

Getting out and meeting other young widows and widowers nourishes my heart, soul and mind. My family and friends are amazing, but having people that have walked in your shoes is a feeling like no other.

Before discovering this group, I had gone to a counselor. It was okay. She made a lot of good points to "diagnose" me in my new role as a widow, but there was no connection.

With this group, it's real and raw. One minute we're swapping recipes, the next minute we're crying and sharing our hurt and then we're back to talking about football.

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