To the editor:
The month of April is Cancer Awareness Month or Daffodil Month, which shows support for people dealing with any type of cancer. Daffodil pins, fresh daffodils, and now the Daffodil Dash all raise money that allows the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) to support people living with cancer and their families. My involvement with the CCS has been as a CancerConnection volunteer.
CancerConnection is a peer support program that provides peer support over the phone to someone who is dealing with cancer. If you are dealing with cancer, you can ask to be matched to a trained volunteer who has had a similar cancer, as well as additional factors, such as having young children at home, returning to work, or whatever else is important to the person with cancer. I have been a volunteer for 6 years this month. To be a volunteer for CancerConnection, you have to have had cancer – that?s why it is a peer support program. You can talk to someone who truly has walked in your shoes.
When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, I had not heard of CancerConnection but I was fortunate to have a friend of a friend who talked to me as she had been diagnosed with cancer the year before. I was very lucky in that I had an incredibly supportive family and friends who walked beside me. However, even with all that support I had, none of my family or friends (thankfully) had ever been diagnosed with cancer. Until you’ve walked the walk, you don?t truly understand all the fear and emotions a person with cancer goes through. Talking to someone who has had their own experience with cancer is invaluable.
In 2012, when I was diagnosed with cancer again, I was able to talk to a CancerConnection volunteer who had been on a similar drug to myself and she was able to share her experience with me.
As a volunteer, I am able to support women who, in most cases, have just been diagnosed with cancer. I share as much or as little of my experience as they would like to hear, and I am there for them with an empathetic, non-judgmental ear—and I never give advice! Many of these women have told me how much I have helped them. I would like to tell them how much they have helped me. Although being a CancerConnection Volunteer is not something I would wish on anyone (you have to have had cancer first), being a volunteer fills me with such gratitude, awe and hope. I have gratitude for the women who have let me support them, awe at how inspiring they are, and hope that we are finding new ways of dealing with this disease.
This April, please support all the Daffodils—pins, flowers and the Dash—because it allows programs like CancerConnection to continue to help people that are dealing with cancer. If you are currently dealing with cancer, you can call 1-800-822-8664 and talk to one of the wonderful coordinators to get a match to someone that has been through a similar experience. If you have finished treatments for cancer and would like to become a CancerConnection Volunteer, you can call 1-800-822-8664 to find out more about this very rewarding role.
Judi Wallace, CancerConnection volunteer,