When cancer has touched your life with such ferocity, it can be hard to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. For Jennifer Lock, volunteering for Cancer Council became that reason.
71-year-old Jennifer has been affected by cancer more than most. Her father had bladder cancer, her mother uterine cancer which metastacised, her brother has prostate cancer and her husband passed away after suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and melanoma.
If that’s not a good reason to want to join the race to beat cancer, it’s hard to imagine what is.
Volunteering gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Jennifer Lock, 71
Jennifer began volunteering for Cancer Council in 2009 while she was caring for her husband. “I needed to keep my mind active and rejoin the community in which I live,” says the Coffs Harbour resident.
She’s now the media liaison assistant at Cancer Council NSW’s Coffs Harbour office. “It provides me with a wonderful opportunity to speak with cancer survivors and their families,” she says. “It is not only a privilege but an absolute joy learning about their intrepid journeys, finding them so upbeat and positive about their futures.”
Jennifer says that she is often struck by the messages of hope that cancer survivors have for one another, messages that leave her in awe of their strength and resilience. “Most people I speak to have a very poignant and inspiring message to impart. The message that comes across very strongly is their positivity – facing the future with courage, hope and above all, optimism.”
She cites a friend, Jan, who has undergone a bilateral mastectomy as an example of a survivor who goes above and beyond to help others with their different cancer journeys. “Jan goes out of her way whenever she hears someone has been diagnosed with cancer to help, give advice, or just provide a supportive friendly ear,” Jennifer says. “She never complains but finds good in every situation.”
Jennifer hopes that every Australian affected by cancer – whether it’s with their own diagnosis or a loved one’s – is aware that Cancer Council has resources there to help. She urges everyone facing cancer to contact Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 Information and Support to get help about any aspect of their cancer journey, including one-on-one support from other survivors, financial and housing assistance or simply clarification about the entire daunting process.
Chances are you’ll speak to someone like Jennifer, who wants nothing more than for you to get the help you need. “Volunteering with Cancer Council NSW has become my ‘raison d’etre’,” Jennifer says of her passion for the organisation following her husband’s death. “I enjoy the camaraderie, and the support I am given in the office which bolsters my self esteem and enables me to pursue tasks I really enjoy performing. Best of all I feel proud to be assisting such a worthy cause.”
This National Volunteer Week we honour and thank our almost 30,000 regular and occasional volunteers like Jennifer, who generously give their time to help us fund and deliver vital services for people going through a cancer diagnosis and their families and carers.
Jim L’Estrange, CEO Cancer Council NSW
Volunteering can be for everyone
Whether you can offer a day per week or 1 day per year, volunteering provides an opportunity to meet new people, to share your experience and to develop new work and life skills.