March 19, 2009
Diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2004, I was treated aggressively with dose-dense chemotherapy. My treatments left me extremely debilitated and once my radiation series was over, I immediately came to Breast Cancer Connections (BCC) to restore my self confidence and also to acquire tools to cope with my transition to my “new normal” life. I joined the newly formed Recovery and Renewal Support group. I also participated in the “Writing Your Way Through Cancer” Workshop. I began to develop coping skills, through hearing what other survivors were doing. I took advantage of all the resources available, and began applying my biology and environmental background to understand breast cancer, healing and recovery concerns, and survivorship issues. Currently, I am a Helpline Volunteer where I feel I make an immediate difference in the lives of those making that first call for help. I am a “Buddy” and peer mentor for clients needing support. Often people will comment “How can you volunteer on the Helpline – isn’t it difficult and so sad?” I am not denying that some weeks my four-hour shift can be challenging. Recently, I supported three breast cancer clients – two came to our center and the other client I spoke with by phone. I was there to help these clients find the resources they needed but most importantly, I was there to listen to these courageous women. There were tears and hugs in abundance but I knew, as clichÃ©d as it sounds, that I had helped “make a difference” to these women by being a helpline volunteer that morning. Other shifts are filled with hope and joy such as the time when a gentleman called on my shift wanting to donate part of his jewelry sales to BCC. His first encounter with BCC was that of a real person with a friendly, helpful voice, there to help him connect to BCC and the wonderful work that we do. He visited BCC the same morning, met with our development staff and left a generous cash donation. I highly encourage others to volunteer and become involved with this wonderful organization – you will feel valued. As noted in the last part of BCC’s mission statement: “…an atmosphere of warmth, sensitivity, and understanding” This is BCC – the minute you step through the door you feel this warmth from staff and volunteers alike. This is what volunteers want to feel – a connection to the BCC “community” and an opportunity to give hope to anyone touched by breast cancer. I can honestly say that being a part of BCC has made an enormous difference to my life. BCC resources, workshops, and complementary therapy programs enabled me to recover from the debilitating effects of my treatment and allowed me to address the psychosocial aspects of having been diagnosed with breast cancer in a safe and nurturing environment. It is a privilege to be able to support the organization that supported me through a dark time in my life.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
warm, compassionate and understanding.
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
MY ROLE:Client Served & I received free support services, medical information, emotional support and practical help.