National volunteer Week (8-14 May) is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation's volunteers. Rochelle Serry is one of our trained volunteers with the phone-based peer support program Cancer Connect and we thank her for her time and enthusiasm.
How did you get involved with Cancer Connect and why did you volunteer?
I discovered Cancer Connect after I had finished my treatment and reflected on how valuable it could have been at the time of my initial diagnosis and chemotherapy. My family and friends were an incredible support, however, it's really normalising and comforting to receive support from someone ‘in the know'. Sometimes it's a whole lot easier to say ‘you know that day two after chemo' to someone who really does know.
What topics do people want to talk about?
Just like all life experiences, people's cancer experiences are incredibly diverse. Quite often the questions start with a desire to feel more comfortable about the treatment and side effects. They often want to talk about how they are feeling post-diagnosis, how family and friends are responding, how they are coping with that, and any range of personal challenges that they are experiencing.
What is something you enjoy about being a Cancer Connect volunteer?
I enjoy knowing that I am providing valuable one-on-one support to someone going through cancer. I enjoy the connection - listening to them tell of their experiences, concerns, feelings and challenges and contributing when asked. I also really enjoy the annual training days where I get to engage with other Cancer Connect volunteers.
What advice would you give someone considering becoming a volunteer in this program?
If you're interested in doing some good, in supporting others who are going through what you've been through - do it! Cancer Connect is a world class program with excellent training and support. You'll gain skills that not only assist with your role in providing peer support, but also in your day-to-day interactions with others. Volunteering with Cancer Connect may well enrich your life in more ways than you expect.