Cancer: An Emotional Journey

Shalonda Drummer learns to share her story.

Through her experiences at The Gathering Place, Shalonda Drummer learned to open about her cancer journey.

Shalonda Drummer describes herself as someone who doesn’t talk about her feelings; she has always been more comfortable keeping personal matters to herself rather than confiding in others. As a 40 year old woman coping with vulva cancer and lupus as well as acting as a caregiver to her father, Shalonda’s journey has left her struggling with the emotional and social effects of treatment. However, she did not initially reach out to The Gathering Place. Only after a chance encounter with another participant who shared her experience with The Gathering Place did Shalonda decide to reach out to the staff at The Gathering Place.

“It feels like someone gave you a big hug” Drummer states, smiling while she explains her experience at The Gathering Place. “I felt alone at first. Sitting and listening to other people’s stories, I realized I’m not alone. We can relate to one another.” Shalonda learned to open up with fellow participants during support group meetings and share her own experiences. “I felt comfortable talking to people I’ve never met before. The group facilitator makes you feel comfortable.” To Shalonda, The Gathering Place is an outlet, a sanctuary to escape to and find solace. “I’m surrounded by people who are feeling the same way.”

Shalonda has become an advocate for The Gathering Place. Through her church, Second Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, Shalonda organizes a Race for the Place team to fundraise and support the free programs and services offered to anyone touched by cancer. Most recently, Shalonda’s church members made a donation to The Gathering Place in Shalonda’s name as a way to continue to support her through her journey. Shalonda continues to give back by sharing her story with visiting medical students, family practice residents, and nursing students as well as participating in a story with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. To Shalonda, The Gathering Place isn’t just a place, “it’s almost like another family. You’re automatically welcomed.”

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