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Women become friends battling cancer, start Driving for Change

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A strong support system is crucial for anyone battling cancer. A friendship between two Wilmington women has blossomed more than they ever imagined.

Mildred Bethea and Courtnay Chase met under unfortunate circumstances; their doctor introduced them, as they both battled breast cancer.

“It was nice to have someone in my age group that was going through the same things and we could bounce off of each other a lot of things about the treatment,” said cancer survivor Mildred Bethea.

Courtnay Chase explained, “When we met it was like we had known each other somewhere before, somewhere in my soul I felt like I already knew her.”

Eventally they both beat the disease and went their separate ways.

Years later, Bethea developed leukemia and when Chase found out, she was devastated. “I could not believe it, and so I called her and when I heard her voice it really scared me because I had never heard her voice sound like that way.”

Bethea was told it would be tough finding a bone marrow match because there are so few African-American donors.

She eventually received an umbilical cord blood transfer and is doing well.

But the lack of minority donors troubled the two friends, leading them to establish the Driving for Change organization. With support from the Community Foundation of Southeastern North Carolina, their efforts are taking off, just like their relationship.

Bethea said, “Courtnay and I are more than just friends. I believe we’ve become sisters.”

Driving for Change is holding a six-day event that kicks off Saturday at Independence Mall. A quick cotton swab in the mouth determines your tissue type and gets you on the donor registry.

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Story summary

videoMildred Bethea and Courtnay Chase met under unfortunate circumstances; their doctor introduced them, as they both battled breast cancer.

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