Anal cancer survivor: Why I volunteer through myCancerConnection

When I was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2009, I didn’t know anyone who had ever had the disease. So I was frightened, confused and didn’t know what to expect. And though I had family and friends cheering me on, I desperately needed to talk to someone who had gone through the same thing. That’s why I vowed to volunteer with myCancerConnection, MD Anderson’s one-on-one cancer support community, after I finished treatment. I knew that I had been given a gift. And it was very important to me to pay it forward. I was too overwhelmed at the time of my diagnosis to take advantage of myCancerConnection myself, but I didn’t want others to have to experience the same sense of isolation that I had. What cancer patients need In the years leading up to my own diagnosis, I’d lost several friends and family members to cancer. And I recall thinking at the time that I understood what they were going through. But after I was diagnosed, I realized that I had no clue. People who are diagnosed with cancer need a safe space to express their fears. They need to know it’s OK to be afraid. They need hope. They need to be inspired to find the courage to get through it. And they need to know someone “gets it.” myCancerConnection fills those needs by matching up people based on their diagnoses and other similarities. Cancer patients and survivors have an instant bond, even if they’re meeting for the first time. And just being able to talk honestly with someone who has walked in your shoes can make...