Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Baldwin home to online cancer support group

July 3, 2001

It was Valentine's Day of last year when Baldwin City resident Robert Stewart found out his wife, Rosemarie, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It hit home very hard," Robert said. "But then it really hit me. Like 90 percent of Americans, I didn't know squat about cancer."

But since then, he's gone from knowing very little about cancer to co-founding one of the largest cancer resource centers in the United States.

"Our notoriety is growing," Robert said. "We've helped people all over the world."

The non-profit organization, named the Over the Rainbow Team, is an online cancer support group dedicated to helping those who are cancer survivors, undergoing treatment, preparing for treatment or who have questions or concerns regarding cancer.

When Rosemarie began fighting breast cancer, she and Robert tried support groups, but found out they weren't always as helpful as they would have liked.

"It was uncomfortable sometimes," Rosemarie said. "When they know you have a disease that will kill you, they don't know how to react."

So Robert, who owns his own web design company, turned to the Internet instead of support groups for help.

He said the Over The Rainbow Team first started from talking to a few people about cancer online.

"The number of people I was talking to just started to grow," he said. "Soon people were coming to us and asking us questions."

Through these online discussions, Robert met Karla Scholl, a cancer survivor from Chicago. With her help, the two began the cancer support website, which offers forums, video conferences, discussions rooms and resources for all types of cancer.

"We started out just to be a discussion group," he said. "But it's really snowballed."

Besides offering resources, the Over the Rainbow Team also sponsors the Little Buddy Program, which sends stuffed teddy bears all over the world to children who have cancer.

"I came up with this because when I was going through chemotherapy, I had a bear with me," Rosemarie said. "It was comforting to me."

Robert said his goal for the online support group is to become the largest cancer organization and support group in the world.

"We're very serious about this and it's not going to go away," he said. "Cancer affects everybody. We want to kill it. I want to see it go away in my lifetime."

The Over The Rainbow Team is located online at www.theovertherainbowteam.com

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