- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

THOMASVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Sitting in a waiting room before her chemotherapy treatments five years ago, April Hughes saw such despair on others’ faces sitting around her.

“They looked hopeless,” said Hughes, a 50-year-old wife and mother who lives in Thomasville. “I had hope.”

Hughes said she had hope because of her faith in God.

“I was going to win either way it went,” she said. “‘If I died, I knew I was going to a better place, and if I lived, I knew God still had work for me to do here.”

That work, Hughes decided, was to give other people battling cancer hope. She and Carol Metcalf, who is a breast cancer survivor, began a support group called Coping with Cancer Through Christ 2 1/2 years ago. The support group meets at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at Hughes’ church - Hillside Park Baptist in Thomasville.

“We are there to offer support through prayer and through each other’s testimony,” she said. “We are there to support and encourage each other.”

Sometimes the meetings feature speakers. Other times they have a devotion and time to share their experiences, how they overcame a hardship and share praises, too. Coping with Cancer Through Christ also sets up at local events to reach out to others who need encouragement and hope. Members provide awareness about the cancers by handing out pins that represent the different kinds of cancer, bookmarks and other items.

The meetings average about 10 to 15 attendees each month.

Three of the support group members, including Hughes, formed a Relay For Life team, which took part in the annual event May 5. They handed out information about cancer and the support group. Relay For Life teams work all year in Davidson County and across the country to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. The effort culminated here with a two-day event, which includes a walk, entertainment and more at Lexington Senior High School.

“We also gave out copies of Carol’s book, ‘My Cancer Blessing,’” she said. Metcalf penned the book to share her journey through the diagnosis, treatment and survival of breast cancer. In 2014, the support group had a 10-member team.

“We want to be a source of support for survivors, and our other goal is to provide the good news of our Lord and Savior.”

In addition, Hughes is involved with another fundraiser that benefits cancer services and education called Athena’s Run. The annual 5K is a fundraiser Hughes’ oncologist began.

Anyone who wants more information about the support group can visit the Hillside Park Baptist Church website at hillsidepark.org. At the top of the page, click on “Who We Are” and pull down to “Ministries.”

Added Hughes: “I pray to the Lord and give him all the glory for the five years I have been given since this started.”

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Information from: The Dispatch, http://www.the-dispatch.com

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