As the radiation treatments continued I began to feel a need
to do something. I had seen so many volunteers at the
hospital in their blue smocks and thought I might look into volunteering
with children. I was almost finished with week 3 of radiation
and was beginning to feel a bit of a routine and a need to push
myself a little. I went to volunteer services and was lucky enough
to find a wonderful woman. She told me that usually they didnt
take volunteers for such a short duration but with my teacher
training and my situation she thought pediatrics might say yes.
I was also lucky that there was a training session the next
day. I was given a blue smock and photo ID. I volunteered three
days a week for three hours. My first day I was wearing my photo
ID and someone asked me directions and said" you're a doctor
arent you? It made my day!
I was a little scared at first but soon I felt that I could
do this, and if I could ease someones pain a little, it
would help me too. I met some incredible people.
I had already gained a great respect for nurses from my experience
with the biopsy surgery. I soon realized the daily intensity
that these people deal with.
There was a four year-old boy that was standing in the hall
in his underwear when I first saw him. He had an IV stand and
bag attached to him and had no trouble moving around. He and
I began to talk and he asked me, "Why I was wearing that
thing on my head?" (I had a scarf on to cover my bald spots.)
His reality with tubes and IVs was normal to him but my
funny bandanna was not!
His mother was an incredible person. She told me that they
were regulars here. Her son was born with a condition that kept
him from eating food. He had a tube in his stomach and could
only eat a special cereal. He still acted like any other four
year-old. His mother was very strong and I felt amazed by her.
She asked me where I lived and when I explained my situation
she was concerned about me! When I left Sacred Heart Hospital,
the people I met through volunteering, especially the children,
are still in my heart.
Take Care of You
Its hard to let others help you! Its hard to concentrate
on yourself. But its important. Maybe you dont have
the luxury of this, but if you do have support, take it! Finally
when I was feeling so exhausted and emotional with dealing with
HMO insurance issues, and communicating with family and friends,
I agreed to let my husband handle it. He became the communicator,
kept the world at bay, and let me concentrate on resting, and
Pamper yourself with simple things like hot bubble-baths,
calming music, candles and incense, herbal teas, special lotions
to rub on and think healing thoughts, and books that make you
Before the biopsy I took multivitamins, extra C, and a pre-surgery
supplement I got from the health food store. During the radiation
I was told not to take any extra vitamin C or antioxidant that
might protect cancer cells. I met with a nutritionist regularly
and was told to increase my protein during treatment.
The housekeeper knocked on our hotel room door before walking
in. I told her we would be leaving in about an hour and she replied
she was deaf. I looked directly at her and spoke slowly. She
was quite talkative and asked me quite a few questions. She was
very friendly and brightened my day. When she realized we were
here because of radiation treatments she told me her father had
had a brain tumor. I saw her one other time but our brief meeting
stayed with me. She showed me that no matter what life gives
you, you can overcome it with a positive attitude.
All the Nice People
Vicki was the parking attendant at the hospital. She sat in
a little booth and I could always count on her cheery smile.
She was so nice and would always say in the most sincere way,
"Have a safe trip home!" She must have said that 100
times a day, but each time seemed just as sincere. We gave her
a teddy bear when we left and gave me a card. She showed me that
a person could be happy at any job they have, and give happiness
too. Its all about attitude.
Pat was a lady who brought her mother in for radiation treatment.
She was very fun and cheerful in the small waiting room we sat
in. We began to share more as time went on, and it was like leaving
a friend when we said goodbye.
Frank was having radiation treatments for prostate cancer.
He brought in a bird that he had carved out of wood. It was so
All of the oncology staff were so caring, from the oncologist
and nurses, to the nutritionist and receptionists.The radiation
technicians were kind and made me feel at ease. Craig or Keri
would ask about my sons football game over the weekend,
and I would feel a sense of normalcy. I was very touched the
day one of the staff reminded me that I had left my special handkerchief
and pouch I held during each treatment. This handkerchief had
been given to me by my Indian sisters and represented healing
to me. They had noticed Id left it on the chair. They were
looking out for me.