Though many may consider "cancer" a dirty word, a group of women here in Davidson take an opposing view.
Each person in the Women's Cancer Wellness Group has experienced the disease firsthand, yet these tough ladies don't let it get them down.
"We call it the Women's Cancer Wellness Group because that's what we're about - wellness," said group leader Mary Ann Mabry. "No one ever, ever wallows in anything. We try hard to be positive in what we've been dealt."
The group is primarily made up of women from the Davidson College Presbyterian Church congregation. The women are all in different stages of cancer, from undergoing treatment to remission.
"We joke that it's kind of like a sorority in which we belong, but we don't necessarily want to be members. We just have to roll our eyes and keep going." Mabry said.
The goal is to support each other through friendship and information.
"There's scads of info out there, and it's hard to sift through all of it," Mabry said. "We'll discuss what we've read to try and make heads or tails of it."
Mostly though, they smile.
Mabry herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2004. She was given a clean bill of health following her treatment but returned for scans every three months. In October 2009, doctors found a questionable spot and discovered that the cancer had returned. She is now undergoing treatment.
"For all of us, cancer is always out there, but it doesn't mean you stop your life. We're there for each other, moving forward."
Mabry took over the group about two years ago. The group used to meet quarterly, but they recently began getting together on the second Thursday of each month, alternating speakers and social gatherings.
"The group is very unscripted and from the heart," Mabry said. "Friendships form from the common denominator of cancer, but mostly we are about day-to-day stuff, a beehive of voices, talking and chatting. And we hope to contribute to awareness, to show that one can have a positive life after diagnosis."
"It's an eclectic group, and we're different ages and come from different backgrounds," she said. "But everyone is always happy to see each other."
The group meets at restaurants, homes and Jetton Park, Mabry said.
This month, they will hear from retired Army Col. Alan Buckner, minister at Gilwood Presbyterian Church, whose wife, Lou, had cancer. After speaking about the Mind, Body and Spirit connection in September, the group invited him back for part two. Other gatherings have included parties and luncheons. The group is open to everyone.