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Sun, Feb. 16

The story of the Sojourn Teddy Bear

Deborah Portzer’s Sojourn Teddy Bear. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Deborah Portzer’s Sojourn Teddy Bear. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

An appeal from a Sedona sewing group for crafters willing to make these bears to distribute to cancer patients.

The Heart & Soul Breast Cancer Support Group is described by a three-time breast cancer survivor as a “peace-filled setting” where many first-time patients bond in a unique sisterhood of hope.

Survivor Deborah Portzer said she has attended the group only a few times “but absolutely love it” because she wants to infuse in those coping with their first diagnosis a sense that they are not alone.

The support group facilitated by clinical nurse navigator Julie Bender is offered through the BreastCare Center on the Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s east campus, 7700 E. Florentine Road, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

At one meeting, Portzer said she was the last to speak. Afterward, she was honored to hear from some of the other patients that she made them laugh when she described how she manages her journey.

“I live every day with joy, doing what makes me happy,” Portzer described of her statement. “But when night draws near, my boobs come off and they go in their nite-nite box.”

Portzer had high praise for Bender’s compassion, her caring and helpful approach that enables the women to share their emotions, pain, fears, treatments, medicines, and family worries. She pays careful attention to what the women want to know, even taking notes, and seeks to answer all questions, Portzer described.

“She (Bender) understands our journey and allows us to let go, which begins our healing process,” Porter said. “She makes us feel special and loved, even when the tears come. It’s OK to cry, that’s healing, too.

“Knowing there’s a safe place to come every month with hugs and hearts that understand each other, because we’ve been there done that, is our true healing,” Portzer described. “At the end of our session, Julie gave each lady a cute teddy bear to take home to cuddle love, and be a friend for our journey.”

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