While some might find hopelessness or despair in cancer, Mary Beth Bloom found a closer relationship with God — one through which she would form a group at her church to help others fighting the disease.
In August 2007, Bloom noticed a lump in her breast during a self-exam. That moment led to a series of medical procedures ranging from a lumpectomy to a mastectomy to chemotherapy to reconstructive surgery.
Bloom shared her story with Patch in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“I just relied a lot on my faith and family and friends,” the Novi resident said.
During her cancer journey, her family, members of her church and some in the Northville school community — where her sons are students — and in her sons’ hockey circles helped her in several ways. They left a cooler outside her door to drop off food when she was too weak to cook. Others helped shuttle her children to their various sports and activities. Some kept her company during her chemotherapy sessions.
“The chemo really took a toll on my body. I had to stop working,” Bloom said. “I just really didn’t have a lot of energy. And after chemo, it just got harder and harder to do everyday things … my body was in so much pain that it was even hard to walk.”
She added, “I prayed a lot every day.”
Becoming an advocate
Before coming to form a support group at Oak Pointe Church in Novi for those who survived or continue their battles with cancer, Bloom got involved in several things.
“Mary Beth is a giver. By nature she is a giver. She has three boys. She always gives to the community,” said friend and neighbor Judy Johnson. “When she got cancer, it was a wake up call for the community.”
Bloom was involved in her sons’ activities and sports, her church community and tried to stay active and healthy prior to her cancer diagnosis.
She tried to stay as active and as healthy as possible during her cancer struggle, too. Bloom tried to walk with friends around the block. She also got involved with a group of people who exercised regularly and were also battling cancer.
“We were trying to do the best to heal our bodies and get better, get stronger,” she said.
As she got better, she also began to participate in and .
“I try to be an advocate,” Bloom said. “It’s important for everyone to know … you need to take care of yourself. There’s really no excuse to not get a mammogram.”
She wants to promote awareness because of “my faith. I just want to share that," she said. "He placed all these people in my life for me to get well.”
Creating a Cancer Care ministry
Back at , where Bloom is a member, she was not alone in battling cancer.
“It seemed that suddenly, there was just a group of women that were going through cancer,” Johnson recalled. She said it occurred to her to “start something to help these people not just physically but spiritually.”
Among the first to sign up to organize what would come to be known as the Cancer Care ministry was Bloom.
“I think a lot of people look at (cancer) and, ultimately, they don’t see God in this,” Johnson said. “But Jesus goes on the journey with you.”
At first, the group started out with just four members, Johnson said. Since then, it has grown to include survivors and those who are currently fighting the disease.
Those battling cancer are prayed for by the congregation, are put on prayer lists and find support in one another, Bloom said. They meet once a month.
“Knowing that people were praying for you, you just drew your strength from that prayer,” she said. “The power of prayer is huge … . You find out you’re on someone’s prayer list that you don’t even know. That’s flabbergasting.”
Though Bloom has won her fight against cancer, the battle has changed her life.
“You just take every day like it’s a gift from God,” she said. “You just really appreciate relationships. You appreciate time with family and friends. That’s the most important thing in life. It’s not your work. It’s the people you meet up with every day.”