Strength In Numbers: Support group formed in Bowman County for those affected by cancer

Melissa Mutschelknaus (TOP LEFT) stands with group founders Jolene Hendrickx, Sue Abrahamson, Berta Hendrickson, and Mary Jacobi, along with Girl Scout Troop 85110. A fifth founder, Terry Walter was not present. The girl scout troop made gifts and treats for the group in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. (Pioneer Photo by Cole Benz)

Cancer affects everyone. It’s not hard to find a relative, friend, or even a friend of a friend who hasn’t been connected to the disease in some shape or form. And when that happens, who do you talk to for comfort?

Pioneer Editor

In Bowman County, five women have answered that question.

The Southwest Cancer Support Group has been meeting since August, but it was really a two-year dream of Jolene Hendrickx, said Sue Abrahamson, who is also one of the five founding members.

“She finally was able to get enough people on board,” Abrahamson said.

Mary Jacobi, Terry Walter, and Berta Hendrickson were also instrumental in getting the group started.

The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at Bowman United Methodist church at 6:30 p.m., and the group is for anybody affected by cancer.

“Whether it’s family, caregivers, the person themselves, it’s for everybody,” she said.

Abrahamson told the Pioneer that they want to give people a place to open up, a place to feel comfortable where they can ask questions about the experiences of others affected by the disease.

To get the conversation going, the first meeting featured a representative from the Bismarck Cancer Center. The second gathering the discussion focused around laughter. “Laughter is the best medicine there is,” Abrahamson said.

Members of Bowman High School class of 1977 gathered in Deadwood, S.D., for their 40-year class reunion.
(Photo Courtesy of A Member of the Class of ’77)

The most recent meeting featured a speaker that was going to present on the topic of nutrition. And nutrition for everybody, not just those going through treatment.

Abrahamson said that the group tries to focus on one thing every month.

“Our goal is to try to come up with a topic to [discuss] every month,” she said.

Abrahamson said this group is the first known support group in the area, and encompasses the whole region of Amidon, Rhame, Scranton, Bowman and Buffalo, S.D.

“It includes this whole southwest area,” she said. “It’s not just Bowman.”

After three meetings, Abrahamson said that they have been satisfied with the amount of people that have come.

“At the last meeting we had a couple of new people,” she said.

But Abrahamson clarified that it isn’t about how many people come, but the important thing is that it’s there if people want to come and talk and listen.

“We never know how many we’re going to have, but that doesn’t matter,” she said. “Numbers don’t matter. As long as we have it available.”

Recently, Bailey Mutchelknaus reached out to Abrahamson, asking if the girl scout troop could do something for the group in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

“I said that would be absolutely wonderful,” she said.

So Troop 85110 painted rocks and gave those, along with some fancy lotion, to the attendees of the group. The girls also made everyone treats to enjoy.

Hugs were exchanged along with the gifts, and the group members were very appreciative and talked with the girl scouts.

Abrahamson said this group is one of the best things Bowman County could do.

“Because there’s a lot of people that have cancer, or have had cancer,” she said.

The group makes individuals feel special and feel like they are not alone. The numbers make them stronger, just like the group itself.

“The five of us, we’re very strong about this group, very strong,” Abrahamson said.