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'I had cancer': Louisville woman leading cancer-support group draws from her own experience

Being Kentuckiana Proud comes from the heart for Lori Mangum, who understands first hand the complex emotions of a cancer diagnosis.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Every single day, new cancer cases rock Kentuckiana families to their cores.  It's not just a struggle for the person diagnosed, but for their loves ones as well. 

This week's Kentuckiana Proud, focuses on Guilda's Club Chief Operating Officer Lori Mangum, who works to create an environment where cancer patients and their families can find comfort and compassion during their cancer battle. 

"I got the news on a break from work one day," Mangum said of her own cancer diagnosis. "I was by myself, went back to work and sat in the parking lot and eventually one of my teammates realized I wasn't back so they went to find me. They were the first person to learn I had cancer."

Lori Mangum's cancer diagnosis years ago left her feeling like she was missing a certain level of support from people who truly understood what she was going through. 

"I'll be really honest, I didn't go for four months after I heard about it," Mangum said of Guilda's Club. "Part of it was... I didn't wanna sit around and kumbaya about cancer, I was already living that every day. But they wore me down, and I went."

Guilda's Club is a cancer support community, focusing not only on patients receiving care, but on their families. 

They offer all kinds of events daily, like support dinner, where people can come, get a plate, and talk to others who can share their experience. 

"You're allowed to feel how you feel," Mangum said of the emotions during cancer treatment.  "You should have safe spaces in your life to be honest about those feelings around other people who are safe who can walk you through it, or just receive it for the day. We're not about trying to fix the problems that exist. We can't cure cancer at Guilda's Club, as much as I wish we could." 

With tens of thousands of new cancer diagnosis between Kentucky and Indiana yearly, it's nearly impossible to not have a personal connection to cancer. 

Mangum says that's why their support is so critical, and why anyone can find comfort with their organization. 

"If you come through our big red doors on Grinstead Drive, or our big red doors on the second floor of the Republic Bank YMCA in west Louisville, you're going to see smiling faces who understand what you're going through, you're going to be received, and you get to make your own journey from there."

Guilda's Club Kentuckiana is always looking for more volunteers to join their missions. Click here for more information on how to get involved.

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