After being diagnosed with colorectal cancer ten years ago, Mortimer Brown turned to support groups because as he says, “one of the things I discovered was people who became involved in support groups lived richer, fuller lives than those who did not.”
In October 2009, Mortimer and his wife, Marilyn, enjoyed a cruise on Holland America Line along with over 100 other passengers. Mortimer’s involvement with support groups at home, lead him to contact C3 prior to his cruise for assistance in forming a support group for the Holland America Cruise Line. C3 was happy to help Mortimer and provide him with the materials he needed to conduct his meeting.
After talking with C3, Mortimer started the process of reaching out to Holland America. He spoke with several middle level managers at Holland America Line and although they were all enthusiastic about the idea they did not have the authority to approve such a request. They suggested that he approach the person on the ship responsible for the daily schedule and pitch the idea to them.
Mortimer did just that and Holland America arranged for two sessions during his cruise – listing the event as “Survivors at Sea.”
Five cancer survivors and two caregivers joined Mortimer and his wife for the two “Survivors at Sea” sessions. The seven individuals consisted of both men and women from all over the United States who were survivor/thrivers of various cancer types.
Mortimer described the activities of the group, “As in all other support groups I have known, their stories were remarkable. In addition to each individual sharing their own personal story, they also discussed some of the implications of reconstructive surgery, for example, the aspects of body image, self-esteem, spouse interactions, genetic testing, whether or not to advise children of results and much more. At the end of the second session, one person said that he had never attended a support group before but when he got home he was going to look for one.”
Although he has no immediate plans for another cruise, you can be sure that the next time he takes to the sea he will be duplicating the success of the “Survivor at Sea” support group he started with resources from C3 and the support of Holland America Cruise Line.