Maureen and Edith manage the merchandise for Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation and use their stall as a way to connect with people living with cancer. Edith says; “it’s not about how much money we make. It’s more about the exposure, talking to people and raising awareness that we see as important”.
Volunteers play a unique role in the hospital environment and in a patients journey throughout it. Having both been through breast cancer themselves, Maureen and Edith are able to empathise with patients, answer their questions and show them that there are survivors.
Maureen explains how they are able to offer support to carers as well, who can sometimes feel uncertain of themselves in the hospital environment; “They don’t know what to do, they don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to think. But if they buy something they walk off feeling like they’ve done something. It’s nice to be able to provide that opportunity.”
Edith decided she wanted to volunteer during her first round of treatment at Lifehouse. The volunteers who assisted her in Day Therapy made a lasting impression and after attending the SBCF Ladies Lunch her decision was final.
Volunteering with SBCF also allows them to stay connected with the oncologists and nurses who took care of them during their time as patients. They expressed nothing but praise for Lifehouse and felt this was their way to now offer their support in return.
“this is an amazing hospital. It really is. I mean what they’re trying to achieve here, you just want to help them reach that”.
They speculate on what they could achieve in the future with a greater network of volunteers; run a merchandise stall more often and at more events, connect with students at university open days, and even establish a presence at Mardi Gras!
“Any amount of time is appreciated. So if someone can only give one or two hours a month, that’s perfect. Anything is helpful”.
To anyone considering becoming a volunteer with SBCF, Edith has this to say “Volunteering comes from the sense that you’re leading a fortunate life and you’re healthy. And it’s just so heartening to be able to give back”.