Making a Difference to Another Cancer Patient

As a cancer survivor, you can help cancer patients immensely. After all, you have literally “walked a mile in their shoes.” You’ve reached the end of a difficult journey that others are just starting, you’ve experienced ups and downs, and it’s likely that you’ve gleaned some wisdom along the way. At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we believe you are living proof that an active life can exist after cancer.

You might be wondering what you can do now that cancer treatment has ended. During your cancer treatment, it’s possible that you experienced help from a cancer survivor— help that you would like to pay forward to someone else. This is the perfect time to make that happen! By investing a little bit of time volunteering, you can make a difference in the lives of patients undergoing cancer treatment. 

How Cancer Survivors Can Help Patients

The good news is that there are a number of ways you can brighten the lives of people being treated for cancer. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there are many volunteer opportunities that will suit your personality. If you’d like to work directly with cancer patients, consider volunteering for one of the many programs or support groups that allow you to do so. Or, if you prefer a more indirect position, those opportunities are available, too. Whichever method of volunteering makes you the most comfortable, the first step is to decide how much time you’re able to devote and then start looking for a volunteer position to fill. 

If working one-on-one with cancer patients suits you best, depending on where you live, you may find programs that give you the opportunity to:

  • Drive patients to and from their doctor appointments.
  • Help cancer patients at home by doing their grocery shopping, getting them meals, or taking care of their pets.
  • Brighten a patient’s day by visiting them at the hospital while they’re recuperating from surgery. 
  • Lead, co-lead, or be an active participant in a cancer support group.
  • Go with a patient to their doctor appointments and take notes for them. 
  • Share your cancer experience with patients being treated for the cancer you experienced. Every patient’s experience is different, but hearing about your personal treatment journey will provide valuable insight in regards to what they can expect. We love for RMCC patients to share their story with us; you can email us at patientengagement@usoncology.com
  • Volunteer your expertise to benefit cancer patients. Are you a cosmetologist? Masseuse? Home improvement contractor? Financial planner? Certain skills you have could help patients feel better physically or address things they aren’t able to due to cancer.

If you prefer to have a more behind-the-scenes role, consider: 

  • Teaming up with a local organization (or starting your own group) to create and distribute care packages to patients undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Volunteering at a cancer-information hotline.
  • Volunteering to help with administrative tasks at a local cancer charity.
  • Donating money to a cancer charity or launching your own fundraising drive.

Finding an Opportunity to Volunteer

There are several ways to get started if you are interested in helping cancer patients. One way is to reach out and offer assistance to anyone you know who is being treated for cancer. Sometimes, people can be reluctant to accept help even when they desperately want to. Because of this, it’s important to 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 Wednesday to pick up your shopping list (or walk your dog, mow your lawn, etc.). 

If you’d like to be matched with a patient in need of support, the following programs can help you: 

  • Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation is a Colorado organization whose mission is to provide Coloradans with cancer financial assistance with dignity and humanity. They promote compassion in the community through volunteerism. 
  • Project Angel Heart addresses a major challenge for Coloradans who are ill: getting the nutrition they need to get stronger, heal and remain at home. They prepare and deliver medically tailored meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses
  • Cancer Support Community is the largest professionally led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide, they are dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.
  • Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance is a Dever-based organization whose mission is to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer through advocacy and education while providing support to people in Colorado affected by ovarian cancer. Learn more and apply here
  • The Bust of Steamboat works hard to provide women with breast cancer with financial and emotional support during a very stressful time. Consider donating to their cause.  
  • The Englewood Area Cancer Foundation (EACF) is a community-based and locally-supported non-profit organization committed to raising funds and securing donations for the benefit of local cancer warriors and their families. Volunteers are always appreciated! Learn more here
  • Cancer League of Colorado is committed to finding a cure for cancer by raising funds to support innovative cancer research and cancer-related services in the state of Colorado. Learn more about what they do and how you can volunteer
  • Susan G. Komen has several volunteer opportunities throughout Colorado communities that can help patients with breast cancer. See how you can get involved
  • Imerman Angels will screen you, match you with a cancer patient in need of support, and provide training. 
  • American Cancer Society: Reach to Recovery, Colorectal Cancer Alliance Buddy Program, and Lung Cancer Alliance Phone Buddy Program match survivors of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer, respectively, with patients being treated for these diseases.
  • Other cancer survivorship resources for Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers cancer patients and/or survivors.

Keep in mind that volunteering doesn’t just benefit the patient, it can benefit you as well. Not only does the time you invest help ease cancer patients’ physical and emotional burdens, but it will also probably lift your spirits to know you’ve had a positive impact on someone during a difficult time in their life. Remember, you’re a survivor — and your success story makes you incredibly qualified to help cancer patients during their time of need.