You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t truly understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” As a cancer survivor, you are uniquely equipped to help cancer patients. You have traveled the difficult path others are just beginning, you’ve experienced ups and downs, and you’ve probably learned some valuable, practical lessons along the way. Most importantly, you are proof that you can lead an active life after cancer.
Maybe you find yourself wondering, “What now?” after your cancer treatments are over. Perhaps while you were undergoing treatment, a cancer survivor helped you and now you feel compelled to pay-it-forward. Investing even a small amount of time volunteering can make a huge difference to patients undergoing cancer treatment.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there are things you can do to brighten the lives of people being treated for cancer. As is the case with many volunteer opportunities you can serve in a variety of ways. There are programs you can join that allow you to offer one-on-one assistance to a cancer patient directly. Or you can be a part of a support group that helps patients. If talking to others about cancer treatment and survivorship isn’t in your comfort zone, you can volunteer in more of a behind-the-scenes or administrative role. Opportunities abound, so the first step is to decide how much time you’re able to devote and whether you want to work directly with patients or in a supportive role.
If you’d like to work directly with cancer patients, depending on where you live you may find programs that give you the opportunity to:
If you’d like to help cancer patients in more of a behind-the-scenes role, consider:
If you’re interested in volunteering to help cancer patients, there are several ways to get started. If you know someone who is being treated for cancer, you can simply reach out and offer your assistance. Sometimes, people are reluctant to accept help even when they desperately want to! If you’re offering support to an individual, be specific and proactive. Instead of saying, “Please call me if I can help in any way!” say, “If it’s OK with you, I will stop by around noon on Monday to mow your yard (or pick up your shopping list, walk your dog, etc.).
If you’d like to be matched with a patient in need of support, the following programs can help you:
Volunteering is a win-win; it helps ease cancer patients’ physical and emotional burdens and it will probably lift your spirits to know you’ve had a positive impact on someone during a difficult time in their life. You’re a survivor. Your experiences uniquely qualify you to help cancer patients during their time of need.