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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Help for cancer victims: Support group's leader understands struggle

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Debbie Fanning leads the new cancer support group.
(T-G Photo by John I. Carney)
Cancer patient Debbie Fanning told the Times-Gazette in 2009 that "I have fourth-stage cancer, and I'm going to die."

She's still here. Renal cell carcinoma, a cancer of the kidneys, is still incurable, and Fanning must go to chemotherapy once a week at Vanderbilt.

"The chemo's keeping it down good," she said. "Having terminal cancer's not easy."

Meanwhile, Fanning is focuses on giving other cancer patients the type of support she's found so essential in her own struggle.

"You need to live," she said, "and not waste the time that you have."

Fanning is starting a new cancer support group that will meet 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, at Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, 1005 Belmont Ave. The church, where Fanning attends and where her cousin Ron Adams is pastor, is just a convenient meeting spot; the support group is open to cancer patients regardless of their religious affiliation.

Fanning recalled how a social worker at Vanderbilt, Cindy Tinker, was so encouraging and supportive when she first became sick.

"Today, we're good friends," she said. She hopes the support group will lead to those same types of friendships.

Two divisions

The support group will have separate divisions for cancer patients and their families. Fanning said that caring for a cancer patient can be a life-changing trial in and of itself, and family members, too, are in need of peer support.

"It's hard on the family," said Fanning.

A friend from the church will lead the family member support group, said Fanning.

Fanning has now become a licensed minister in the Pentecostal Church. She said she hopes the group will meet at least once a month.

Fanning can be reached for more information at (931) 619-2734.

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