Flo Bellamy holds the Cancer Support Group binder full of patients’ confirmation forms, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, Mountain City, Tennessee. Photo by Veronica Burniston.
By Veronica Burniston
For nearly three decades, the Johnson County Cancer Support Group has served its community, meeting physical, financial, and emotional needs while also lifting the spirits of diagnosed individuals.With roots reaching back to 1994, the Support Group hosted a number of American Cancer Society (ACS) relays and fundraisers in the county. Unfortunately, the money raised left the area to further research and support other needs through ACS, which left many local patients with little help.
To fully meet the needs of its community, the Cancer Support Group decided to focus its time, efforts, and resources solely in Johnson County. Funded by local individuals, businesses, churches, and United Way of Tennessee, the Support Group operates entirely on donations. Its staff consists of two ladies: Flo Bellamy, who assists patients, and Bobbie Smith, who manages finances. “Every cent” donated to the group helps local cancer patients.
“Everybody’s touched by cancer,” Flo Bellamy said. “We see 3 to 5 new patients a week.” She noted the patients come in all ages–the youngest was an infant cradled in her mother’s arms.
In a study performed by ACS, it is estimated 1, 660 Americans will die daily from cancer in 2020. It is the second most common cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease.
Keeping its process simple, the Support Group asks patients to fill out a Cancer Confirmation Form upon arrival. Flo verifies information with the patient’s physician, and the Support Group gets to work identifying the individual’s current needs and how they can alleviate some of the burden. Over the years, the Support Group has purchased food, nutritional supplements, medicine, medical supplies, paid electric bills, travel, funeral expenses, etc. In 2019, the Cancer Support Group assisted 221 individuals, amounting to $19,874.92.
“When funds get low, we reach out [to the community] for help. Flo said. “We’re called the Volunteer state, and this community exemplifies that.”
Besides the ongoing need for financial funding, the Support Group also needs volunteers for fundraising events, patient transportation, and meeting basic needs like fixing patient’s roofs. Flo stressed that it is a “community effort,” and everyone has a skill they can use to help someone else. If interested in volunteering with the Johnson County Cancer Support Group or a diagnosed individual needs assistance, contact Flo Bellamy at 727-2942 or 483-7008.