The Villages - October 2021 - 16

BUILDING
COMMUNITY BY
SHARING THE BURDEN
Cancer Support & Resources
Too much information can lead to confusion and
misunderstanding, and the internet can be a dark, rabbit
hole of a place. While it may be best to ask a trusted
medical professional important health questions and
weigh the pros and cons of various treatments, many
people find comfort, strength and empathy in local
support groups. They're able to encourage and empower
one another as they battle cancer together.
Village of Bonnybrook resident Rhetta Morales
knows this firsthand. Losing her first husband to
cancer kicked off a series of experiences with the awful
disease. But between those cancer storms, there were
bright interludes and meaningful encounters. Hector
Morales was one of them. A cancer surgeon at The
Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Hector lived in the same
community, and like Rhetta, had also lost his spouse
to cancer.
" We knew of each other, and when our paths
crossed, we fell in love, " she said.
Rhetta laughs at the memory of those early days with
Hector, noting the two were " like fish out of water. "
" He'd been married for 40 years, and I'd been
married for 37 - then all of a sudden we were dating. "
The basis of their initial attraction was a deep
and profound understanding of what each had been
through, suffered and lost.
" That caregiver's role, " she said.
The couple got married and later moved to The
Villages with a mission - " We felt a strong calling to do
something other than tennis and golf, " Rhetta said. " We
wanted to give back. With Hector's medical background
and our experiences with cancer and the loss of our
beloved spouses, off we went. "
The two had started a group for individuals with
cancer, but members were slow to join.
" It just wasn't taking off and we were hesitant to get
speakers because we didn't have a very big crowd, " she
said.
Meanwhile, a gentleman named Ray Glatz who'd
founded a cancer support group through St. Timothy's
16
OCTOBER 2021
Catholic Church was searching for assistance.
" Ray was an excellent leader, but cancer took its toll
on him and he needed help, " she said. Rhetta and Hector
stepped in and opened up the group to Villages residents.
" It became the Villages Cancer Support Group - no
longer affiliated with St. Timothy's, but they provided
the meeting room and put announcements in their
church bulletin, " she said.
The newly branded group was open to caregivers,
cancer patients and those who'd lost a loved one to
cancer.
" We were growing leaps and bounds - advertising,
taking flyers to local doctor's offices, and we finally had
enough members to pull in some well-known medical
speakers, " Rhetta said.
But more storms loomed on the horizon, and came
with a shock of bad news.
" (Hector and I) were both diagnosed with cancer that
same year, " she said.
As for their group leadership roles, Rhetta jokes they
were overqualified - " So overqualified it was pitiful. But
what a way to reach out to others when you've been
there, done that. "
While Rhetta's health improved, her husband
unfortunately passed away. During this difficult time, she
drew strength from the group - reaping blessings from
all she had sown.
" I'm grateful for the overwhelming support I got from
fellow group members, " Rhetta said. " When Hector
became somewhat incapacitated, I felt I just couldn't do
it all anymore. I put in many hours of prayer, and God
answered. He sent me some beautiful people - it was
like they'd dropped right out of heaven. "
Among them is Amy Roberts, LCSW, an oncology
social worker for Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute
and the group's new facilitator.
" We would not have survived without Amy, " Rhetta
said. " She touches so many people, giving advice and
counseling. She has so much knowledge about cancer
and what it does to the body. "

The Villages - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Villages - October 2021

Contents
The Villages - October 2021 - Cover1
The Villages - October 2021 - Contents
The Villages - October 2021 - 1
The Villages - October 2021 - 2
The Villages - October 2021 - 3
The Villages - October 2021 - 4
The Villages - October 2021 - 5
The Villages - October 2021 - 6
The Villages - October 2021 - 7
The Villages - October 2021 - 8
The Villages - October 2021 - 9
The Villages - October 2021 - 10
The Villages - October 2021 - 11
The Villages - October 2021 - 12
The Villages - October 2021 - 13
The Villages - October 2021 - 14
The Villages - October 2021 - 15
The Villages - October 2021 - 16
The Villages - October 2021 - 17
The Villages - October 2021 - 18
The Villages - October 2021 - 19
The Villages - October 2021 - 20
The Villages - October 2021 - 21
The Villages - October 2021 - 22
The Villages - October 2021 - 23
The Villages - October 2021 - 24
The Villages - October 2021 - 25
The Villages - October 2021 - 26
The Villages - October 2021 - 27
The Villages - October 2021 - 28
The Villages - October 2021 - 29
The Villages - October 2021 - 30
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The Villages - October 2021 - Cover3
The Villages - October 2021 - Cover4
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