NEWPORT (WATE) – The mission of small non-profit organization Celebrate Life Cancer Support Group is to assist, educate, support and encourage newly diagnosed cancer patients.
A breast cancer diagnosis changed founder Michele Sexton’s life forever, but not in the way you might think. Her battle was just the beginning.
“You start becoming a survivor the second after they tell you you’ve got cancer,” said Sexton.
Diagnosed in 1997, Sexton is now cancer free, but her experiences during her illness made her realize that not everyone fighting this disease is as fortunate.
“I was blessed because I had a supportive family, friends, and I had insurance, but others didn’t have that and I saw their struggle.,” she said.
Sexton wanted to do something to give back to the people in her community, and that’s when Celebrate Life Cancer Support Group was born.
“We ask, what is the greatest need that you have right now?”
This non-profit all volunteer group helps cancer patients in Cocke, Jefferson and Sevier counties.
“We help them with utility bills. We help them with gas cards. We’ve bought tires. We’ve installed plumbing,” she said.
The group is also a support system.
“It helps to have someone to talk to that’s actually been there and done it,” said Sexton.
Jeff Miller was diagnosed in 2013 with head and neck cancer. He credits the group with helping him through some of the toughest moments of his life.
“Right off the bat, it was just like family,” he said.
It’s a family of fighters and survivors, celebrating one day at a time.
As part of our monthly Day of Service, WATE 6 On Your Side is assisting Celebrate Life Cancer Support Group with an outreach program called “Manna from Heaven” that supplies pre-packaged snacks to chemo and radiation waiting rooms in Sevier County and in Morristown.
More online: 6 On Your Side Day of Service
Every two weeks, Celebrate Life delivers snacks to the cancer treatment centers.
“Some patients can only taste salt when they’re going through chemo. Some patients can only taste sugar,” said volunteer and cancer survivor Sharon Taylor-Manning.
Chemotherapy can last anywhere from a half an hour, up to six hours or more. For patients who have to spend time sitting in these chairs, a snack and a warm smile is definitely welcome.
“It just means so much to make a patient’s life just a little bit better,” said Taylor-Manning.
The only thing Celebrate Life asks of the people they help is verification that they have cancer and that they are residents of the three counties they serve.
Their meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of the month except November and December. They meet at the Episcopal Church, 304 Cosby Highway, in Newport at 7 p.m. Cancer patients and their families are welcome to attend.
During their meetings, they have many informative speakers. The purpose of the meetings is to provide a place where cancer patients and their families can come together for support and fellowship.
Celebrate Life also helps provide donated items such as wigs, turbans, walkers and other aids for patients use.
If you are interested in making a donation to Celebrate Life Cancer Support Group or know someone who would benefit from their services, write to:
Celebrate Life Cancer Support Group
P.O. Box 263
Newport, TN 37822
You can also call founder Michele Sexton at 865-654-0468 or Sharon Taylor-Manning, the Sevier County Coordinator for Celebrate Life Cancer Support Group at 865-654-2007.