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Local

Support group shows ‘there is hope’

Pink Ribbon Support Group has been helping people with their battles since the ‘90s

Susan Huetter and Conni Beck, right, share a laugh with members of the Newton Fire Department during the Pink Ribbon Support Group's annual bake sale fundraiser at MercyOne Newton Medical Center in October 2019.
Susan Huetter and Conni Beck, right, share a laugh with members of the Newton Fire Department during the Pink Ribbon Support Group's annual bake sale fundraiser at MercyOne Newton Medical Center in October 2019.

The Pink Ribbon Support Group provided Sue Huetter with a sense of camaraderie and a place to share her feelings during her treatment. But above all else, it gave her hope. At that point in her life, hope was a precious commodity.

“It was that hope that we can get through this,” Huetter said. “There is hope at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and people are living longer.”

Shortly after Huetter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, she joined the support group. The women involved in the group helped her “tremendously” during her battle with cancer. Now a survivor of 21 years, Huetter still works with the support group and helps new members through their battles, too.

“There were other ladies that were going through or had been through the same things that I had and was dealing with … there’s a lot of good support,” she said.

Since 1994, the support group has kept itself busy, especially during October. During a normal year, the gals would be organizing fundraisers and teaming up with the local firefighters, who make breast cancer awareness apparel and wear pink uniforms at the station.

This year has proven to be challenging for the group, which regularly met at MercyOne Newton Medical Center. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to the meetings. Carol Hopkey, one of the founding members of the Pink Ribbon Support Group, said newsletters still keep the group communicating.

“We miss each other,” Hopkey said. “We really haven’t had a meeting. I think I even canceled the March meeting. It’s been a long time … Usually in October that’s our main money-raising event is our bake sale and silent auction.”

Not wanting to put any of the volunteers or members in jeopardy, Hopkey decided to cancel this year’s bake sale. However, the Pink Ribbon Support Group did receive an $1,800 check from the fire department from last year’s shirt sales. Hopkey said the group is “so thankful” for the firefighters’ support.

When the pandemic subsides, the support group will likely gear up for more meetings and swap testimonials with any new members. The support group allows new members to share their thoughts and experiences with others who have similar stories. Multi-generational members is a benefit, too.

“There’s myself and another lady who have been with the group since its inception, and then we have gals that have been there for 10 years and five years — and hopefully that’s kind of a bright part of some of these early diagnoses,” Hopkey said.

“You can walk into a room and see these ladies that have their hair back and are smiling and are enjoying life, basically. They know that there is hope.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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