Fifty-three!

That’s how many responses we received when we asked cancer patients and caregivers to nominate a Hope & Cope volunteer who lifted them up and helped them through their cancer experience. The submissions were heartfelt, the gratitude genuine and the profound impact of Hope & Cope’s 450 volunteers came through loudly and clearly.

Cancer survivor George Vogen, a regular at Hope & Cope’s Cancer Wellness Centre, expressed his gratitude in a beautiful hand-written card with the image of a butterfly on its cover, a symbol of resilience and hope. “The attitude of all volunteers, ready to help, is present in whatever I participate in, be it counseling and advice related to my cancer concerns or other therapeutic activity; be it uplifting social group gatherings (e.g. Men’s Club), choir performances, visiting professional speakers or entertainers, pot luck lunches , the artist group practitioners, the annual summer outdoor barbecue etc… Hope & Cope is a place, also, where I can find curative solace and count my blessings in peace.”

While many respondents were happy to nominate volunteers by name, others noted that it was impossible to single out individual ones given their appreciation of each and every one of volunteers they have met along. For example, Giovanni Cantini Vespa wrote, “I sincerely believe in the excellent work that all the volunteers do. I enjoy in particular their human touch and the care that they show to us…I will never forget the experiences I had at Hope & Cope and how much it helped me get through [cancer].”

Compassion, empathy, kindness and caring were words that appeared frequently. “I thank all the volunteers at Hope & Cope for their love, support, empathy and kindness. I really appreciate and admire them. They will be in my heart forever,” noted cancer survivor Lee Quach, who avails herself of many wellness programs offered at the Wellness Centre.

Cancer survivors who participate in the programs at the Wellness Centre were effusive in their praise of the volunteer instructors who share their expertise on a weekly basis. Numerous participants thanked our yoga, tai chi, qi gong and relaxation volunteers, noting how the combination of breathing techniques and movement helped them feel better physically and mentally, improving their posture, strength, flexibility and  balance as well as the quality of their sleep and their moods.  “Thanks to my yoga teachers, not only was I able to maintain good physical condition during my treatments, I also experienced many moments of gratitude, inner peace and wellness.” Our art teachers and choir volunteers were also singled out for the joy that they bring to cancer survivors who indulge in creative pursuits at our Cancer Wellness Centre. “A choir is also about friends who share the same passion for singing, music, learning to breathe, memorizing and interpreting with pleasure. I eagerly await Monday afternoons – it’s my joie de vivre.”

OrderlyJin Xue Liu (Harry) took the time to express his admiration for all or our palliative care volunteers in a handwritten letter. “Every day, I luckily witness that all the volunteers of 4 Main provide miscellaneous fantastic service to our cancer patients. It’s absolutely marvelous and exceptional.”

Volunteers who man the front desk at Hope & Cope sites, who circulate in the Oncology and Radiotherapy clinics and who work as greeters at the Wellness Centre also were singled out for their cheerfulness, encouragement, warmth and support.

“Whether they have direct patient contact or work behind the scenes, each and every one of our 450 volunteers has a profound impact on the lives of cancer patients and their families and has earned our gratitude and respect,” notes Executive Director Danielle Leggett.

The last word belongs to one of our respondents who wrote, “Throughout my journey, I’ve been blessed with wonderful people around me and I’m very grateful. Thank you!”