New Jersey Grandmother Survives Cancer, Volunteers Nearly 32,000 Hours at Hospital

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For almost 29 years I have volunteered at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ. I got started when I returned from Florida after two years of "retirement." I felt restless, and had nothing to do. Before raising six boys, I worked as a dietitian in hospitals and knew I loved the hospital atmosphere.

In my first volunteer position, I served as a "greeter" at the information desk, directing visitors, answering questions, delivering mail, etc. After many years of positions like that I started helping the Nurse Manager in the Breast Care Center on Sundays. She then asked me to join her department "full time," and I eagerly did. As a cancer survivor myself, I figured I could help more with women getting mammograms and biopsies. I have served there for about nine years. Last year I cut my hours from about 40 to 30 a week, only because my kids thought I should slow down a bit, at 93.

We have a lot of Spanish-speaking patients now and I learned just enough Spanish to greet them in their language, ask them to come with me to the dressing room, wish them luck, things like that. The best part is getting to take care of the little babies the patients bring with them, while the mothers have their visit. I love that! The hardest part is talking with the patients who get news that they do have cancer. The nurses ask them if they want to speak with a volunteer who has survived cancer. They come to me in tears, fearing the worst. I hold their hands, tell them it isn't over, that they have treatment options, good doctors, lots of reason to hope for the best. I tell them I had two major surgeries 20 years ago, and more cancer surgery recently, and I'm still here! We just sit and talk a few minutes.

I recently started helping out in the Neo Natal Unit also, greeting the pregnant women who come in for stress tests and ultrasounds, taking them and their charts to the right location. I love anything to do with babies. Maybe I can help in the nursery next!

I am the oldest volunteer at the hospital and have the most hours. I was Volunteer of the Year for the hospital.

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