The average CHN patient talks with their Support Volunteer approximately three times. For some patients and caregivers, a call or two is all they’re looking for as they navigate a new diagnosis or explore treatment options. But for others, that first call with a CHN volunteer is the beginning of something remarkable.
Today, we feature two amazing women facing an “easy cancer” that’s been anything but easy.
“Unfortunately, with thyroid cancer, many people don’t even know it’s out there,” Support Volunteer Stacy** says. “Thyroid cancer is interesting, because you feel like you’re in a lost space. It’s cancer but people say things like ‘It’s gonna be cured, you don’t have any worries.’ or it’s ‘not that bad.’”
“Several years into my diagnosis, I thought I was ok – because that’s what the doctor told me. And then I had a recurrence. I’m going through that, am still going through that to this day,” she recalls.
“For someone like me who is so private, it was tough to talk about. If I’d been able to contact someone to speak about what I was going through, it would have been incredibly helpful. I’ve learned so much, especially since my recurrence. If I can help just one person get onto the right track, it’s worth it.”
Stacy, an active member of her local Cancer Support Community, was referred to CHN in 2016. Since then, she’s demonstrated her commitment to helping others and “paying it forward.”
She understands that cancer patients often need more than medical support – they need emotional support, they need the permission and encouragement to become advocates for themselves. “Sometimes, my calls are the mother or the parent of the patient. Everyone is different, they handle things differently. But there’s always a reason they’re calling – reassurance, hope, a listener. I try to keep that in mind with each call, to find what that person needs.”
Early 2016, one of those calls was to Kate, a thyroid cancer patient struggling with primary thyroid cancer that had spread to her lungs, spine and bones. Many conversations later, Kate is an unabashed fan. She pays tribute to the woman who’s become more like a younger sister, an “angel sent from heaven.”
“Stacy feels like family to me. After she calls, I sleep much better. She is intelligent, caring, disciplined. I feel comforted talking to her.”
Although the women come from different backgrounds, they’ve found kinship in their common fight, the shared struggle of recurring, advanced cancers. “Cancer is different in every person,” Kate acknowledges. “But there are many common denominators. Stacy knows what I’m talking about. She doesn’t play doctor, but she understands.”
While she’s providing emotional support and comfort, Stacy is also focused on providing everyday, practical assistance. “She put me in contact with the American Cancer Society to find transportation. That’s helped me to connect with other patients in this fight.”
It’s safe to say this bond will continue.
“She’s a square peg in a square hole – exactly the encouragement that I needed.”
**Name has been changed to protect privacy.