Tunnell Cancer Center hosted a holiday luncheon to honor the dozens of volunteers who share their time, energy and empathy with patients and their families at the facility.
Many volunteers have themselves been affected by the disease, personally or within their family. Judith Ramirez, volunteer coordinator and manager of psychosocial services and outreach at Tunnell, said they all want to give back.
"Most cancer survivors are extra motivated to get well, and our volunteers have all been touched by the diagnosis, so they are too," Ramirez said.
Tunnell Cancer Center volunteer Stacie Holsopple said two years ago, she was living in Dallas, Texas, when cancer changed her life.
"I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in April 2015, and you could have knocked me down with a feather," Holsopple said. "I had no family history and was not expecting this news."
The volunteer said she had made a life in Texas and worked for the same company for 36 years when she got the news. Holsopple went through six months of chemotherapy in Plano, Texas, and once she was cancer free, her husband proposed they relocate to Delaware, where he had family, and they saw an opportunity to start anew.
Now, in her mid-50s, Holsopple lives in Millsboro and says she has been cancer-free for more than two years. Holsopple said the opportunity to spend time at Tunnell has not only helped her build a community of new friends, but it has also helped her share the joy of hope and recovery.
"This is my haven," she said. "I love all these people, and it's amazing to share this experience with all these people who share their time, money and hearts."
Barry Hamp, executive director of Beebe oncology services at Tunnell Cancer Center, said he can't imagine a cancer center being able to operate without volunteers.
"They provide so much," Hamp said. "Many are survivors, or they've lost someone, and they want to give back. As a result, they tend to understand the patients because they've been through it."
In addition, volunteers provide more than emotional support, although that is a huge part of their job. Hamp said they also take pride in their work, and are diligent and effective at any task he assigns.
"I've worked with a lot of volunteers, and when you give them a job to do, they own it," Hamp said. "And once they own it as theirs, there's no stopping them."
For more information on volunteer opportunities, go to www.beebehealthcare.org or call Tunnell Cancer Center at 302-645-3770.