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Cancer survivors to share stories at HearthLight Event at Riverside Military Academy
Free event set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
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The HearthLight Event

What: Forum, panels and info sessions for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Riverside Military Academy, 2001 Riverside Drive, Gainesville

How much: Free, open to the public

More info:

When Suzy Griswold was diagnosed with cancer, she became the 13th person in her family to face the disease.

Ten others lost their lives to it.

Six years later, Griswold is cancer-free and feels better than ever after choosing “a journey to healing that wasn’t mainstream.”

Griswold is a member of Gainesville’s HealingStrong group, a volunteer network of “cancer thrivers” led by Christine Holcomb.

Holcomb got her breast cancer diagnosis four and a half years ago. She spoke to three different surgeons and “considered a lot of different modalities” before having a double mastectomy.

“I chose to do a double mastectomy, even though I was offered the choice of a lumpectomy,” she said. “But I was thinking, ‘Oh, just take them off.’

“You see, you operate in fear when you first find out you have cancer.”

Fellow survivor Marsha Dickey knows the feeling. She was first diagnosed with throat cancer 11 years ago. Four years later, she received the breast cancer diagnosis. Three years after that, more cancer cells were found.

It was then she decided to “do something more dramatic.”

Griswold, Holcomb and Dickey all used their cancer diagnoses as catalysts to improve their health holistically, they said. They will join other cancer survivors to share their stories from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville for The HearthLight Event.

The HearthLight Event is “the first medical conference of its kind in North Georgia,” according to a release from hosting nonprofit QEd Motivational.

It will be held in the Carlos and Sandra Cervantes Theatre for the Arts at Riverside, and it is meant to educate and support cancer patients and caregivers with classes, lectures and panels.

HealingStrong will facilitate cancer survivor panel discussions at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. All panelists, including Griswold, Holcomb and Dickey, are cancer survivors, and many will discuss the holistic therapies they used to support their healing.

Griswold’s additional therapies were a combination of a clean, vegan diet, proper nutrition and avoiding toxins. Holcomb and Dickey’s were similar.

“It’s not necessarily about curing cancer,” Dickey said. “But it helps your body, your immune system, everything, so your body can help heal.”

Dickey said she hopes to help give other cancer patients the courage she felt in facing the disease.

“Even in the beginning, it was never a question,” she said. “It was never anything other than, ‘I’m going to beat this.’”

The HearthLight Event will include more than 20 speakers total, including doctors, farmers and best-selling authors, to discuss nutrition, exercise, pain control and emotional well-being.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the QEd Motivational Georgia Facebook page.

Holcomb said the event is a special opportunity for the Gainesville community, and the more people who attend, the more people who can leave informed.

“For me, this event is to let the community know there are options,” Dickey said. “Cancer is not a death sentence.”