Volunteer: How I’m helping others end cancer

One early Friday morning in August 2017, my wife Sandra and I showed up to MD Anderson in Katy for her very first day of breast cancer treatment. Needless to say, this was not one of our better days. Her oncologist, Dr. Nikesh Jasani, had recommended that she start chemotherapy to shrink the tumor in her right breast before surgery. We were both rife with apprehension as we sat in the clinic waiting for her name to be called so she could undergo something we knew absolutely nothing about. We spotted a gentleman who appeared so upbeat and jovial, as if he did not have a worry in the world. He sat right next to us and started a conversation. Within minutes, the three of us were laughing and talking as if we had known each other for years. It turns out that this gentleman, Browning “Brownie” Sinclair, is an MD Anderson volunteer. Brownie explained to Sandra and me about his volunteer duties, and I said, “Sounds like something I can do!” Without hesitation, he whipped out a business card for MD Anderson’s Volunteer Services and Merchandising department. Within a couple of days, I applied for a volunteer position. Helping others as we’ve been helped Now I spend one day a week doing for others what Brownie has done for Sandra and me. I’m a prostate cancer survivor myself, so I’m well aware of the challenges of cancer. However, volunteering opened my eyes even wider. It’s helped me realize that even though our journeys are unique, we often share the same struggles. As a volunteer, I enjoy sharing my...

How to find the right cancer support group for you

A cancer support group is a safe place to share your experiences and connect with others facing the same challenges. It gives you the space to connect with others dealing with cancer, talk openly about your feelings, receive practical advice, share resources and contacts, better understand and be able to describe your experience and develop coping skills.  Studies have shown that support groups can reduce isolation, anxiety and stress. They can also improve mood, self-image and the ability to cope. With all of these benefits, you’d think that attending a cancer support group would be a no-brainer. But some people find the idea a little intimidating. And that’s totally normal. It can be nerve-wracking to put yourself in new situations, introduce yourself to new people and especially to face experiences you haven’t been able to process yet. Decide what you’re looking for in a cancer support group To get the most out of a cancer support group, it’s important to find the right one for you. Here are a few questions to answer before attending one: What type of support are you looking for? Some support groups are more social in nature. Their purpose is to connect people with shared experiences in a casual environment. Other support groups are more talk-therapy based, and focus on helping group members process their experiences. Who are you wanting to get support from? Some support groups are geared towards patients and/or caregivers dealing with a specific diagnosis, while others are open to all diagnoses. There are also support groups that are for both patients and caregivers, patients only, caregivers only, young adults, kids...