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Sharing Our Gifts...

On Dec. 26th, I volunteered at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. When I got there, some of the volunteers who volunteered on and a few days before Christmas said there were so many donations of toys that you couldn’t see the floor in the playroom.

There were some beanies and craft books that were donated, and myself along with the other volunteers passed them out to the cancer patients.

The playroom was slow with only three patients who came in, but the good thing was that most of the hospital beds were empty, which means a lot of them went home for Christmas.

Towards the end of my volunteer shift, I was talking with a Mother and she asked me how long I’ve been volunteering, and I told her a little over a year. I also told her that I am a two-time cancer survivor, hip amputee and I did my chemotherapy treatment at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.

I said I always wanted to give back somehow and looked for an opportunity to become a volunteer at the same hospital where I did my chemotherapy treatment as a teenager.

She asked me how did I feel when I walked through the same doors where I did my chemotherapy treatment many years ago. I told her at first it gave me chills because it brought back memories of the darkest days of my life.

After I got settled after a few visits, I became comfortable because I was focused on helping others in a situation that I was well too familiar with. I became a volunteer because my goal was to give hope. Throughout this year, I’ve achieved that goal of giving hope to others without even knowing it.

For instance, while talking with the Mother, she asked me how did I deal with having cancer as a teenager, and I said I mainly stayed to myself, and dealt with the fact that I had cancer internally.

I told her everybody who is diagnosed with cancer deals with it differently. I also said I rarely went to the playroom as a cancer patient, while other cancer patients were always in the playroom socializing.

She also asked if my family was involved, and I said I had a great support system from my immediate family as well as family from around and out the country. I said although all my family members couldn’t be there physically for me. I know I was in their prayers and I always had support.

I told her having a support system from friends and family is important. I said having a positive mindset as well as positive vibes believing that the situation will get better also helps.

She asked me does life get better being a cancer survivor (I’ve been cancer free for 13 years), and I said it doesn’t get better, but with time things get easier because having cancer is life changing. I also said I had to learn how to adapt to the change I was forced to overcome.

At the end of my volunteer shift, the Mother said she enjoyed talking to me and said I gave her hope because I am a great example of a teenager and young adult cancer survivor.

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