'Cancer Confidants' converge in East Nashville to build community

Posted at 5:43 AM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 08:21:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A simple post in a Facebook group asking to connect with other cancer patients led to a community centered around cancer but all about friendship.

At 36 years old, Katherine Van Grinsven was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2021.

"When I first got diagnosed, you know getting a terminally ill diagnosis or any type of health diagnosis that’s scary. You have to learn to deal with that. And it took me quite a while, several months, to get to a point where I felt comfortable speaking with other people and reaching out to other people," she explained. "I was seeing that some people had cancer friends or cancer groups that they were able to meet up with and, you know, hang out with and get to know one another, and virtually on these groups with people from literally all over the world."

She liked the idea of having a cancer community but said nothing was local enough to make it feel personal.

Cancer Confidants Founder & Stage 4 Cancer Patient Katherine Van Grinsven

"I posted in our East Nashville neighborhood page, which is a fun group that you know, a lot of people from our area are connecting," she said. "I was really just looking for a friend, hopefully someone with stage four, hopefully someone in my age group. But what I figured out really quickly based on the responses I was getting on the post was that a lot of people need this I definitely struck a chord with some folks."

Jennifer Helton, who was diagnosed with mucous carcinoma during the pandemic, saw Van Grinsven's post.

"I was literally jumping up for joy because this is what I had been wanting for a year," explained Helton. "I'm like, 'oh my gosh, so there are women like me who live in my neighborhood and are close to my age?' And I was so ecstatic and just to sit here and just hear other women's stories just kind of have a camaraderie."

The Cancer Confidants meet every few weeks at places in their neighborhood working around each others' cancer appointments.

The group meets in their neighborhood every few weeks trying to schedule around each others' cancer appointments.

"Cancer can be a very isolating experience. It can be a very lonely experience," explained Van Grinsven. "At times you can feel the rest of the world is passing you by when you're stuck in a series of appointments or doctor's visits or treatments. And by creating this group and keeping it tight-knit, I'm hoping that people will join knowing that they are just not alone."

To learn more about joining the Cancer Confidants group in East Nashville or tips on starting your own group in your neighborhood, visit their website or Facebook group for more details.

While Cancer Confidants started on Facebook, the group's mission is to create face-to-face friendships.