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Fighting cancer with prayer

October 24, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - In 2002, Loy Capshaw was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

"I'm a person of deep faith. My initial response came from deep within me," Capshaw said.

That response was to find a support group with a very specific focus: prayer.

While dealing with her own disease, Capshaw, 43, embarked on a quest to find such a cancer support group in the area, but was unable to connect with one with prayer at its center.

"I felt a leading from the Lord to start a cancer prayer support group," Capshaw said.

During this time, she encountered a similar group in Hanover, Pa., organized by a woman who has written two books about cancer, Capshaw said.

Under that woman's tutelage, Capshaw started the Cancer Prayer Support Group in the summer of 2005. Its purpose is to provide emotional and spiritual encouragement to adult cancer patients and caregivers.

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She took it one little step at a time, first securing a room at the John R. Marsh Cancer Center in Robinwood Medical Center. Room 120 is where the daytime group meets the first Friday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

"Three people came the first time," Capshaw said. At the most recent meeting Oct. 6, a dozen people attended.

Soon she arranged with Tri-State Fellowship, at 13153 Cearfoss Pike in Hagerstown, for night meetings on the third Thursday of every month from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Those who attend include the newly diagnosed, those in treatment and longtime survivors. Caregivers often attend, Capshaw said, because they need support, too.

The sessions usually begin with a meet and greet, then everyone settles down - sharing jokes, laughing and crying together, and updating each other on how everyone is doing.

"Then we pray," Capshaw said.

Sometimes there are speakers, but that is rare, since sharing and prayer are cornerstones of the support group.

Since the beginning, the Robinwood group hasn't lost any members to cancer. Tri-State Fellowship had one member die of the disease.

Capshaw refers to herself as the founder and facilitator of the group. Integral to its continued success have been Chrissy Weaver, a social worker at John R. Marsh Cancer Center, and Kitty Lippy from the chaplain's office at Washington County Hospital.

Capshaw's husband, Steve, is also one of the faithful.

"I'm Loy's caregiver, so I come to share with other caregivers," he said. "My wife is perfect for this because he always focuses on others."

Capshaw pointed out that while the needs of cancer patients and caregivers are different, they are equally important.

"Everyone in this situation needs to talk," Capshaw said. "We are providing the place."

For more information, contact Capshaw at 301-797-3432 or send e-mail to her at cancerprayersupportgroup@hotmail.com.

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