Beating cancer across generations

Patricia’s story

met-patriciaPatricia Totman has been volunteering with Cancer Council since 1992 in a variety of roles. She is a cancer survivor and a proud supporter of Cancer Council.

When asked what ‘contribution’ means in relation to Cancer Council Patricia said: “Giving of my time in whatever way I am able to in an endeavour to beat cancer”.

What volunteer roles have you loved most during your time with Cancer Council?

“Volunteering on Cancer Connect is rewarding in supporting ladies after breast surgery – I have the opportunity to encourage ladies to ring 13 11 20 for information. Being part of a team, one forms a special bond, as I have experienced with the Packing Team and participating in workshops.”

What Cancer Council events have you really loved and why?

“Years ago I was invited to a Daffodil Day Breakfast where a Survivors Badge was going to be “launched”. Quite an occasion for us volunteers pinning a badge on each other and sharing our story.

“There have been many events over the years, and many great memories. Daffodil Day, decked out in yellow, and Pink Ribbon Day in pink, draws people to the stall to purchase, and I am now known as Dame Edna Everage’s Sister!”

What made you attend the first Hornsby Relay in 2003?

“As a Survivor and volunteer living 300 metres from Rofe Park (where Relay is held) there was an opportunity to be involved, and having lived in Hornsby since 1959 I have had the social contacts to advertise the event. I have already been giving my little reminder notes to Survivors for the date this year.”

What are some highlights for you of attending Relay and the Survivors and Carers Lap?

“Renewing friendships of regular Survivors/Carers and Team members, encouraging new people to join the Lap, then enjoying the morning tea, exchanging stories and the strong bond that is felt. The activities of the rest of the Relay are amazing – the enthusiasm, eye-catching costumes and young teenagers with their boundless energy.”

What is your most memorable experience since being with Cancer Council?

“Completing my volunteer training in 1992 and receiving my certificate started my being a volunteer; and supporting women before and after surgery, a very humbling experience. Some years ago on a trip in New Zealand I was chatted to by a lady who said she remembered me in hospital helping her after her breast surgery. She spoke of her appreciation of my time spent with her as did her husband. She gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.”

Sally’s story

sally-hudson-2My name is Sally Hudson, and I have been with Cancer Council NSW a little over three years in various capacities. I graduated from Wollongong University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Public Health. With little Public health experience up my sleeve I knew I would have to work hard to find employment.

I applied for the Policy and Advocacy volunteer position in Wollongong, thinking to myself, “What is Advocacy?” It’s a term I’d heard in a lecture or read in a text book, and now it was the title of a position I had to fulfill. During this time I was also working on events for the Heart Foundation, which provided the perfect balance.

I began my work as the lead volunteer on the Tobacco Retail Audit Scheme, liaising with the Advocacy team in head office and coordinating local volunteers to complete randomly selected postcode audits across the Southern Region.

During quiet periods I would take on other projects to help out wherever possible. This led me to work on the SunSmart Program, where I would meet with school principals to encourage them to update their sun protection policies.

In December 2012 an Events Administrator position became vacant – although it did not have a Public Health focus, I knew I could use this position to build upon a skills-set I had not yet developed, so I applied. January 2 2013 was my first day in my new role, and I remember being so excited. My new colleague, who was only a month into her role, sat me down with a pen and paper to ask what I knew. The page remained blank as I explained to her that I had only worked on programs and not events. She smiled and said, “Well, I guess it’s the blind leading the blind.”

That was the beginning of a great bond. Not only did we work closely to learn the role, we took on additional projects, improved systems and processes, mentored numerous volunteers, and worked closely with our Community Relations Coordinators to ensure that they were well supported.

In June 2014 yet another opportunity presented itself – the role of a Community Programs Coordinator for the South West and Tablelands Region. At first I was a little unsure as I had worked hard to perfect the role of Events Administrator, but knew that I would be crazy not to give it a go. I began my new role a short time after.

Now it’s mid-2015 and I am still learning, still learning the programs, still meeting people, and still determined to be good at my job.

What I have learnt from my experience so far at the Cancer Council is that you must take risks, challenge yourself, never stop learning, and most importantly work together in order to move forward. I have a great team that has always supported me and motivates me to be the best I can.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow.