Cancer support group has been helping women for the past 17 years

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - An Anchorage cancer support group has been a resource for women for the past 17 years.

Women Listen is a nonprofit organization that has been going strong since 2002. It was founded after a group of women diagnosed with different cancers wanted to come to the same support group.

“We've been at a couple of bookstores, coffee stores, fabric stores, we've made our round around town,” said Muff Zellmer, the group’s leader, and retired nurse practitioner.

Every Friday starting at 10 a.m., a group of women gathers in the corner of Title Wave Books to discuss what they are going through.

On Friday, the women discussed everything from experiences with doctors to reducing anxiety right before mammograms.

“Part of you wants to keep it quiet like, oh, I don't want to bother my friends with this,” said Sally Betz, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. “But I'm the kind of person that likes to lean on people, and I'm glad I did.”

Betz has been coming to the group since her diagnosis.

“One time that I came (to the group), I wasn’t able to eat,” she recalls. “Chemotherapy was killing my taste buds in my tongue, and one of the ladies in the group gave me a recommendation of a book that was really helpful for her. We found it at this book store.”

You would find that advice like recipes and books are commonly given out at the group.

“It’s just been nice to talk to people going through cancer treatments as well,” Betz said.

“I think when people think of support groups, that it’s just going to be sitting around crying,” Zellmer said. “But you can see that there was more laughter that came out of the group. There’s more of a sense that, oh, I can relate to what you’re going through. Rather than it being a depressing sort of thing.”

The group also goes on retreats. For more information on the group and to get connected, visit Women Listen’s Facebook page.

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