Can you make a difference in someone’s life?

I LOST my beautiful mother to cancer six years ago. Although she was an absolute trooper throughout her journey, it was a challenging, and at times, harrowing experience. One thing that sticks in my mind is her optimistic outlook and her praise of the nurses and volunteers she came in to contact with. She liked being able to talk to them about things she didn’t feel comfortable sharing with family. I daresay they were the not-so-optimistic moments.

Are you passionate about giving back to the community and enjoy talking to people? Cancer Council NSW is a community funded, community focused cancer charity dedicated to working towards a cancer-free future. There are things that we can all do every day to help make this happen.

The Cancer Council Information Service volunteer is a crucial role, providing support and information to people affected by cancer and health professionals within Nepean Hospital. This includes linking patients and carers to Cancer Council support services and resources.

Volunteer work is a great way to meet people and find new friends in your local area while also making a positive impact. Volunteers benefit from learning new skills, gaining valuable work experience, applying professional skills to work that makes a difference and the satisfaction of giving back to our cause. Each of our volunteers has a unique story about why they enjoy working with us and what volunteering means to them.

Main responsibilities include: • Informing and providing people within Nepean Hospital of Cancer Council services and resources available to them. • Respecting the privacy and confidentiality of others • Treat all personal information acquired as confidential • Avoid giving medical advice, including alternative therapies • Wear the supplied uniform and identification badges • Enter deidentified data onto the provided tablet for each interaction • Complete stocktake of booklets and other materials within the treatment centre and ordering publications when needed • Taking part in evaluation surveys and representing CCNSW in collated surveys on an ad hoc basis

Our ideal volunteer will have: • Great communication and listening skills • Knowledge of, or ability to learn: The services provided by CCNSW and other organisations and Use of computers/tablets •  Confidentiality • Ability to attend provided training and bi-monthly team meetings • Have a commitment to the cause of Cancer Council NSW Desirable: • Some previous experience with cancer, ie: have had cancer personally or involved with a family member/friends diagnosis.

If you are interested, please call Natalia on 9354 2009 or email natalia.arnas@nswcc.org.au for more information. Please note there is a one-off compulsory training session which will be held in Parramatta (close to train station) on Thursday 20th July.

Sue Woodward’s story:

Sue was 49 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

That was 17 years ago.

Then four years ago, she was diagnosed with a new breast cancer.

“This time,” Sue says, “they advised a double mastectomy”.

To the outside world, Sue believes, she looked like she was doing okay coping with her second diagnosis and getting on with her life.

But how she felt inside was a different story.

The worst time, she says, came one day when she was just sitting in a shopping centre. “I was looking at people and I was churning.”

“Why me,” she couldn’t help thinking. 

“Why me and why not them?

“It was just really difficult,” she said. Tears filled her eyes as she thought back to that time.

“…That feeling of resentment I had. I didn’t like it. I don’t like resentment in any one.”

“But that day, I felt just … empty.”

To anyone who has faced a serious or life-threatening illness, Sue’s experience is probably not unusual.

But what came after that it is what makes Sue’s story remarkable.

A good friend came to Sue’s rescue.  When she understood how Sue was feeling, she suggested that Sue call Cancer Council NSW’s 13 13 20 Information and Support service.

Sue spoke to a Cancer Council health professional who really listened to her. He helped her understand her feelings and work through her very natural emotional response.

That was a turning point for Sue.

Looking back she says, “I don’t remember the name of the man I spoke to on the 13 13 20 number, but I thank him a lot”.

Sue and her husband Greg had already had some involvement with Cancer Council NSW.

A friend had an eye removed as a result of melanoma and Sue and Greg were understandably distressed about it.

 Coming on top of Sue’s experience, it prompted them to really want to do something about cancer.

Then they read about Cancer Council’s Relay For Life in the paper.

So Sue and Greg decided to get involved by becoming volunteers.

Over time they learned more about the work of Cancer Council NSW.

So when they retired early and had more time, they decided to do more.

They began volunteering in the office  helping with, as Sue put it,  “whatever was needed”.

They volunteered with the ‘Eat It To Beat It’ healthy eating program and then with the Community Speakers Program, visiting groups to talk about the work of Cancer Council and the types of help that are available.

“Now I work in the Cancer Council Information Service in Western Sydney,” says Sue.

“I listen to people and I point them in the direction of material I think will help them.”

“I see people who are seeing specialists, that are going through chemotherapy or radiation.”

“And I never ever forget the support people who are with them. I think it’s really really important that we look after the carers because I know what they go through.”

“Sometimes it’s important that people know there is light at the end of the tunnel. For some people, I represent that light.”


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