WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – An estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.
A couple in Wilmington has devoted the past seven years of their lives to helping women who have received the devastating news that they or a family member has cancer. They began their emotional journey to create Hope Abounds, a non-profit organization, after their daughter was told she had cancer.
Kenny and Elizabeth Barnes created Hope Abounds in March 2010 after their 32-year-old daughter, Kelly, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Along their journey, the Barnes family met many female survivors and learned that there was a need for a survivors support organization in our area.
“Until you are in those shoes and you have walked that journey, you don’t realize what one is going through. You also don’t realize what is there and what is not,” Elizabeth Barnes said. “So as we made that journey with Kelly here in our area, we realized seven years ago that there were some pretty big chasms that were missing as far as support for any woman that had any other type of cancer, other than breast cancer.”
Hope Abounds began to fill these gaps in services, to meet the needs of all female cancer survivors and their families, by trying to help them focus on the recovery process, by providing supportive services, financial assistance, educational opportunities and advocacy for women and their families who are going through any type of cancer.
“So, with our organization, we are able to assist any types of cancers including breast cancer, which is probably 60 percent of what we do, but from colon rectal, to lung, to different types of bone cancers, to assist that family and the woman also,” Kenny Barnes said.
Deborah Higgins had surgery for breast cancer eight years ago, but the cancer returned to her bones last fall shortly after she left Maryland for a new life in North Carolina. With her friends hundreds of miles away, she turned to Hope Abounds.
“You have cancer. Cancer is not you. You can still manage it sometimes and it can be a chronic disease and you can keep it in remission for many, many years. There are some people who can’t do that, but you have got to have hope and that is what Hope Abounds is about,” Higgins said.
Hope Abounds continues to offer women opportunities to share their experiences, strengths and most importantly, providing hope to let them know they are not alone in their journeys.
The group also sponsors a yearly physician’s forum to people to reach out directly to professionals with questions and concerns. Last year, services were expanded to meet the needs of children and teens diagnosed with cancer and their families through “A Kids Hope.”
The reach and influence for Hope Abounds continues to grow through the region to bring education, assistance and awareness to those in need. But what does the future hold for the group?
“From two to three counties seven years ago to 74 counties today, we don’t know. We are just going to be there to give that person hope,” Barnes said.
But they do share the hope that all of us have that one day, research will find a cure for cancer and for all cancers to become a disease of the past.
Published: Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 17th, 2017
By: Bob Townsend, Anchor
Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.
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