West Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- On the 19th of each month, we introduce you to breast cancer survivors.
Through our Buddy Call series, we've learned different ways women cope with the illness.
Some cope through prayer, through time with family, through exercise, and others find peace in simply sharing their story.
Today, we want you to meet a rare group of women who discovered not only how to survive, but how to thrive while living with stage 4 breast cancer.
Once a month inside the East Bay Deli in West Columbia, at a table in the back corner of the restaurant, sits a group of women with a bond.
The group is called "Sharing Hope", and it welcomes anyone with recurrent or metastatic breast cancer.
Kelly Jeffcoat is the Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator from Lexington Medical Center. She leads the group.
"Metastatic support groups are actually few and far between in the country," said Jeffcoat, who added that online groups are more prominent these days compared to in-person groups.
A breast cancer survivor herself, Jeffcoat started the group 10 years ago.
"As soon as you hear the word metastatic or stage 4, that means they can't cure your cancer, but they can control it," she said.
At this year's January meeting, Jeffcoat was joined by two of her regulars: Marie Pitt and Janet Sheppard Kelleher.
"We get together and share the horror stories and the joys, the achievements and the good times," said Kelleher, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. "When you get a diagnosis and you're told you're terminal, you really do need somebody that understands what you're going through."
The group discusses their struggles and their victories.
"People are glad to give you sympathy, but you really need some empathy," said Kelleher. "You need somebody who's been there and done that."
When someone becomes metastatic, they may become introverted and reluctant to go out and share their experience. That's what Sharing Hope is for: To listen and understand.
"I have been stage 4 for four years," said Pitt. "When you're a little more interested in Jan's outcome or her diagnosis, you're not so focused on your diagnosis."
Even though January's meeting had a group of three, there is still an entire circle of co-survivors who keep in contact and come to each other's rescue.
"They were running really far behind [at a chemo appointment] and I had not planned on being there through lunch and I posted on Facebook and Jan saw it so Jan brought me lunch!" said Pitts.
Group members tell us their cancer has become more like a maintained disease like high blood pressure and diabetes, as opposed to a death sentence.
In 2017, Pitts got to visit Spain and Portugal, thanks to the non-profit In The Middle.
Kelleher wrote a book, and has a big love for hang gliding, parasailing and fishing.
For these women, no matter the diagnosis, there will always be hope.
"Live until you don't live anymore," said Pitts. "That's what life is for everybody. Even if you're not stage 4, even if you don't have cancer, even if you're perfectly healthy. You don't know when your last day is on this planet."
If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Sharing Hope group, you can reach Kelly Jeffcoat at 803-791-2521.