Five years ago, Linda Dickey, a nurse who had worked in oncology, decided it was time to do something to benefit women who were battling cancer.

"My heart was heavy for the ladies," Dickey said. 

Her answer came through the program Roses Among Thorns, a ministry for women battling cancer. Dickey said she chose the name because Jesus was the Rose of Sharon. 

The ministry encourages women to "not look at the thorns and to come look at the roses in their lives."  Dickey said the roses are family and friends who are supporting cancer patients.

"I want them to look at the other side and not dwell on the cancer. I minister in a holistic way including body, soul and spirit," Dickey said.

The program began with five women meeting in Dickey’s house and has grown to an active list of 44 who meet at the Springhill Baptist Church Family Life Center.

"It was almost two years ago that we outgrew my house," Dickey said.

Although other support groups may offer knowledge and statistics, Roses Among Thorns offers the opportunity for women to connect to each other. 

"It is a sisterhood, a sisterhood of roses," Dickey said.

As the sisterhood has grown, Dickey has seen her vision of the women becoming friends and supporters come to fruition. The ministry has also grown to some of the "roses" of the organization offering outreach to women who might not be able to attend meetings. 

"They call, e-mail and eat with each other. It is very exciting and uplifting," Dickey said.

When starting Roses Among Thorns, Dickey said she prayed to ask God how she could help the women. 

Some of Dickey’s special talents are cooking, decorating and crafting. 

She offers these gifts to the women who are a part of Roses Among Thorns through monthly tea parties. 

"Every month we have a formal tea party," she said, noting that each party has a theme.

"We have never repeated a theme," Dickey said. "I look for ways to put smiles on the ladies’ faces. Some times, the least likely things do that."

Ye Olde Daisy Shoppe furnishes the roses for the ladies at each month’s event. The ladies gather at 11 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

The "roses" range in age from 33 to in their 80s and are battling or have battled different forms of cancer. 

"There is no age barrier," Dickey said.

In addition to the monthly tea parties, Dickey also tries to arrange special trips for the women. Recently, the women went on a retreat. Last year they traveled to Branson.

This year’s retreat was held at Mt. Eagle in Stone County. 

"We took 35 ladies," Dickey said.

The event offered a time for fellowship as well as a little pampering.

"We had the greatest time," Dickey said.

Although they share fun times with each other, they also share sadness. Dickey said the women are there to offer support even in death.

"I try to be there in every capacity," Dickey said, noting that she and other "roses" attend services of the members. 

"We take care of our own," she said.

When the "roses" attend a funeral service they bring pink roses to place in a vase for the family.

"We are there for each other even in death," Dickey said.

Dickey said that even if she had been someone with cancer, she didn’t know if she could offer the "roses" much more support.

"The Lord has given me what I need to give to the ladies," she said.

She hopes the program will spread to other areas. Dickey is working to gain nonprofit status for the organization. She has also held a fundraiser to defray costs, most of which have come from her own pocket.

"We have so much going on, I can’t get the nonprofit status," she said. "I have got to get the nonprofit status so we can help more people."

She hopes that when the nonprofit paperwork is complete, Roses Among Thorns will pop up in more communities.

"I don’t know where God is taking me, but I am ready for the ride."

For more information on Roses Among Thorns, contact Dickey at 501-472-1120.