Camp for cancer-fighters creates lasting bonds

- They call themselves the two Carries - best friends who met in the most unusual way.

"During my chemo treatments, they almost gave my bag of chemo to this Carrie," Carrie Fitzpatrick said, pointing to her friend. "This is Carrie Roper."

The Carries are breast cancer survivors - and now act as what some would call camp counselors, at the annual Faces of Courage Cancer Camp in Brandon. Their goal is to keep newbies from feeling blue.

Carrie Roper said, "that's why Peggie let's us come back. It's her tenth and my eleventh time at camp, because we're so good with the new women coming in who are totally afraid to talk about their cancer, who are trying to be strong."

Peggie Sherry, a cancer survivor herself, founded the camp.

"I took my inheritance and I started Faces of Courage, and since 2004 we've had over 7,000 campers through the program, and all of the programs are free," Peggie said. 

She created an environment where women - with any type of cancer - can get away and enjoy the typical camp activities, like fishing, and archery but also massage and acupuncture, even hypnosis for trauma. And of course a little hug therapy.

The two Carries are a fixture at the camp, leaving their mark on more than just cotton t-shirts.

Carrie Roper said, "one woman was afraid to tell people she had cancer because she was afraid people wouldn't like her anymore, that she was nasty, or undesirable. By the end of camp, she left wearing breast cancer ribbons."

Peggie said, "you see the transformation of someone who walks in scared to death of the c-word. When they leave, they can actively talk about their cancer. If you really just face it head on - your survival rate is pretty high."

The Carries say, "We don't ever want this to go away. It makes a big impact on both of our lives... This weekend will change many women's lives... Forever."

For more information on the Faces of Courage camps, visit https://facesofcourage.wordpress.com/

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