Her motto was simple, “to live better, not bitter.” Her dream was to create a support group for women who have battled breast cancer.
And before she passed away in October 2018, that’s exactly what she did.
The late Alicia Grosenheider, who battled breast cancer several times in her lifetime, started the Montgomery County Breast Cancer Support Group in 2008 with the help of the Montgomery County Health Department.
“There was not one around when she went through cancer the first time,” said fellow survivor and support group member, Tina Hagemeier. “She was three years out from her diagnosis and she just wanted to help others.”
Hagemeier said that she didn’t know Grosenheider until she was diagnosed with cancer, but the two immediately hit it off.
“When I went through cancer I got to know her very well,” Hagemeier said. “I felt like I had known her my whole life.”
The first meeting of the group was held in April 2008, and since then has helped approximately 140 women on their breast cancer journeys. And although they haven’t helped any men to date, the group would also support men battling breast cancer.
“We had lots of people show up at our first meeting and it just blossomed,” Hagemeier said. “Alicia just had this way of making you feel that things were going to get better. She was so positive. Nothing was ever a problem. It was such an inspiration.”
Since that very first meeting, the group has met every two months for support meetings, until April 2019, when a global pandemic shut down in-person gatherings.
Not getting to meet, however, did not stop the group from helping those newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Members continue to deliver “support bags” and send cards to those in need. They also provide gas cards to help for travel to and from treatments.
To help fund their efforts, the group hosts the Monisa Clark Breast Cancer 5K fun run and walk during Irish Days in Farmersville each June. In addition, they sell breast cancer awareness T-shirts each year.
“We couldn’t keep going without the support of our community,” said Hagemeier. “We never dreamt we would be able to do all we have done. The community really supports us.”
The group, which falls under the umbrella of the Montgomery County Cancer Association, just started meeting again in person in April 2021. They currently meet every other month at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.
“It’s definitely not doom and gloom at our meetings. It’s not a cry session” Hagemeier said. “They are very upbeat. You couldn’t be in a room with Alicia and not smile or laugh.”
Hagemeier, who has taken on the role of president of the group, with help from member Tracey White, said she was leery of how the group would continue without Alicia and her inspiration and confidence.
“I couldn’t be more proud of everyone for sticking together,” she said. “Alicia planted the seed, but we’re trying to stay strong. We know it meant a lot to her, and we know it means a lot to other ladies too.”
Hagemeier said they will continue to help support breast cancer patients for as long as they can.
“It takes us all. It takes a village,” she said. “When you go through cancer and people have helped you, you want to just give back. These ladies want to help others.”
For more information about the Montgomery County Breast Cancer Support Group, contact Hagemeier at 1-217-246-6126 or White at 1-217-825-4945 or follow them on Facebook.
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