- Date of publication 06-28-2010 As a volunteer at the Cancer Institute I experience the joy of giving back to other cancer patients, the same excellent care and support I myself received during my cancer journey.
As some of you know, it is a frightening experience when your doctor says: "this lump in your body is malignant; you will have to consider surgical removal, and perhaps followed with a series of chemo and radiation therapy treatments".
In times like this, being visited by understanding compassionate people is of utmost importance to help alleviate fear and anxiety.
My main responsibility as a volunteer is friendly visiting with the in-patients. Visiting provides much needed support to patients and families. The presence of the volunteers on the unit also assists the nursing staff in meeting patient needs physically, spiritually and emotionally. The friendly visitor brings mealtime assistance at the bedside when required, visits each patient to offer encouragement and companionship, based on individual needs. Most important the volunteer lends a listening ear, especially to those recently diagnosed with cancer and anxious about the outcome of their disease.
It is very therapeutic for sick people to be given a chance to express their feelings and to sense that people care. Praying with the sick is a necessity, but must be done with much discretion and respect of each person's needs and personal beliefs. Other tasks of the volunteers is to provide information packages on cancer interventions to newly admitted patients, make referrals to the pastoral worker, priest or minister if deemed necessary or upon request from the patient.
Once a week I do outpatients escort service; that is I greet patients and their families as they enter the building, to orientate them to the proper department of treatment or surgical procedures. Wheelchairs are offered to the frail and elderly as well as assistance to accompany them to the proper area of the institute, as hallways are very long.
My first impression of the Cross Cancer Institute the day I walked in the building was: « what a welcoming place! » I sensed joy, friendship, support and gentleness no matter where I went. I was pleasantly surprised to witness a very strong bond of unity between the staff and the volunteers. Needless to say this positive ambiance has a great impact on patient morale and is very beneficial in total healing of the person. Praise, gratitude, thoughtfulness, and affirmation surround you. The air is permeated with a feeling of care and compassion, so conducive in the healing process.
Sister Aline Vachon
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