When you become a cancer survivor, nothing is more precious than your health and your time. I learned this personally about two years ago when I was told I was “cancer free” after a six-month struggle with cancer.
During the first weeks and months of my survival, I was a bit week and unsettled. I wasn’t sure how to proceed with my new life. Joining the LiveStrong program at my local YMCA helped me transition from being a cancer patient to becoming an active cancer survivor. Through the Livestrong program I was taught the importance of restoring my physical health and becoming stronger. Going through the program with other cancer survivors was very helpful to overcome the feelings of isolation and depression that often accompany having cancer.
I soon found a wonderful local chair yoga program that matched my abilities and gave me confidence. I found a Great Books discussion group at my library that challenged my intellect and brought me new acquaintances. I connected with a local poetry organization and participated in some of their activities. I joined the March Challenge and became an avid Slicer for Two Writing Teachers But in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to somehow “give back” to the LiveStrong program in return for all that it had given me.
And now I am doing just that. Last fall I volunteered to help out in the gym with a new group of survivors by just being there to help them negotiate the equipment and to talk with them about their experience. Although it was a good experience, I felt like it wasn’t really what I wanted to do.
About a month ago I talked to the new LiveStrong program director and told her I wanted to help publicize the program which didn’t seem to be doing enough outreach. She was thrilled to have my help and agreed to have me distribute promotion materials for the program and I have been happily doing so for the past two weeks. It’s not a fancy job, and probably no one else knows I’m doing it, but I enjoy the feeling of knowing that someone may pick up one of the brochures or read one of the posted fliers and discover the program. I’ve had some nice chats with local groups and organizations as I’ve explained the program to them and asked permission to leave the promotional materials with them.
The real benefit to volunteering is that it makes me feel good to be doing something to help others in dire straits and to know that I might be making a big difference in their lives. Becoming active in your own recovery is the best thing you can do to help yourself as a cancer survivor. The LiveStrong program taught me well and I am so grateful for it.