Cancer buddies connect at assembly

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July 23, 2014 | Feature | Volume 18 Issue 15
Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, Alberta Correspondent

They walked together through a valley of shadows for two years, yet Assembly 2014 is the first time Elizabeth Wall and Lorraine Reimer have met face to face.

Reimer, a member of Whitewater Mennonite Church in Boissevain, Man., is a breast cancer survivor.  A mutual friend in Edmonton connected her with Wall in November 2012, right after Wall, a member of First Mennonite in Edmonton, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease.

Since then, a warm friendship has formed over Facebook, as they supported each other through words and prayer. At the time, Wall knew very few Mennonite women who had experienced breast cancer. In addition to her own illness, Wall’s husband was also being treated for cancer.

Speaking of her experience, Reimer said, “Social media was a lifeline for me. I could access it when I had the energy. I could access the support I needed.”

Wall agrees. “The responses were so fast,” she said. “You know people are caring.”

Wall and Reimer are open with their stories, wanting to encourage others to connect. While in treatment, Reimer kept on with her job as a driving instructor. She found that many young women engaged her in conversation, needing the opportunity to talk. Wall has also found that her experience gives her a way to connect meaningfully with others who need an understanding ear.

The story of their meeting provides a great contemporary, ecumenical twist on the Mennonite Game of making connections according to family ties. Both women grew up in the United Church and the friend who introduced them is Anglican. Finally, they meet face to face at a Mennonite assembly.

Both Wall and Reimer are currently studying theology and have interest in ministry.

“We are truly sisters!” Reimer said.

To see links to more Assembly content, go to Stories and images of Assembly 2014. 

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