BREVARD COUNTY — Nonprofit organization Complementary Cancer Care is offering residents a chance to share their cancer story in honor of National Cancer Care Survivors Month in June.

A “Write Your Cancer Story” essay contest can be written through the point of view of the patient or caregiver in 1,000 words or less. The contest is open through May 22, and three finalists will be announced June 1 before online voting commences.

The winning essay will be printed in an upcoming Complementary Cancer Care newsletter and published in Viera Voice.

The essay contest was modeled after cancer support organizations, said Christina Tecson, CCC support group facilitator. The contest aims to honor people’s stories, and allow writers to process and share what their experience has been.

As a breast cancer survivor of five years, Ms. Tecson said she once participated in a similar essay contest while living in California.

“I hope it gives them a chance to reflect on what they’ve been through, the good and the bad, and as much as possible put a positive spin on their experience,” Ms. Tecson said. “It could honor a loved one or appreciate the support and resources that helped them through cancer.”

Complementary Cancer Care was formed as a nonprofit in 2018 by oncology nurse Amy Fentress and engineer Lorien Neargarder. They partnered with Gwen Hertlein-Haber, who was formerly the director of the nonprofit Cancer Care Centers of Brevard Foundation, and now serves on CCC’s board of directors.

Complementary Cancer Care offers support services to complement medical treatment. Both Nurse Fentress and Ms. Neargarder met after learning they both were instructors of free yoga classes to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

The nonprofit partners with community experts and local resources to provide services such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, art classes, educational speakers, peer support groups and mental health counseling at no cost.

“I went through treatments in California, and at the time I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have a lot of [supportive] services there,” Ms. Tecson said. “A lot of people go to Orlando or Moffitt [Tampa] or Jacksonville. Some of the bigger hospitals have these programs, but Brevard County doesn’t have many social support groups.”

According to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Facts and Figures 2020,” in Florida alone there will be an estimated 150,500 new cases in 2020.

Complementary Cancer Care stated in a press release that Brevard County has averaged more than 3,800 cancer cases per year for the past 12 years.

“The feedback I’ve gotten from others has really been tremendous, knowing there’s a place to go and people to talk to that has similar circumstances,” Ms. Tecson said.

Many of Complementary Cancer Care’s services are available online, such as yoga, caregiving support groups, cancer education and counseling, writing groups, and art classes.

To submit an essay, email info@compcancercare.org with your name, age, phone number and essay.

For more information, visit www.compcancercare.org or call (321) 266-0564.

Associate Managing Editor

I have been a Viera resident for 15 years and a writer my whole life. I love to travel when the opportunity presents itself, as well as try new things.

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