In Bellingham, active volunteers aid in cancer fight

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 7, 2013 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The American Cancer Society is celebrating 100 years of fighting cancer this year, and PeaceHealth St. Joseph opened it 35,000-square-foot Cancer Center Dec. 10 in Bellingham.

We asked local cancer survivors and volunteers to share their stories this month to highlight the progress that has been made in fighting these diseases.

The closest office of the American Cancer Society is in Everett, at 3120 McDougall Ave., Suite 100. Call 425-741-8949 for more information. Or, go online to cancer.org.

Relay For Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, takes place three times in Whatcom County: Western Washington University on May 15; North Whatcom-Lynden at the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on June 20; and Downtown Bellingham on July 15.

Here is an essay from Carol Brumet, outreach coordinator for the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center:

In December 1996, I was hired by the American Cancer Society as the executive director covering Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties. I was responsible for increasing cancer programs and services in the three counties as well as overseeing three Relay for Life events; Bellingham, Burlington and on the Whidbey Island Naval Air Base. Along with all of these responsibilities I had the opportunity and pleasure of working with and getting to know thousands of volunteers.

Now as the outreach coordinator for the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center, one of my favorite job duties is overseeing the volunteer program. We currently have 32 active volunteers who serve our patients, support staff with administrative duties, offer complimentary therapies or lead a caregiver support group.

In 2012, cancer center volunteers clocked 3,548 hours. In addition to their weekly responsibilities, many gave additional time and energy helping staff ready and move into the new cancer center. Every volunteer went through a rigorous safety and orientation training for the new facility alongside staff.

Each volunteer is considered a valued and respected part of the team at the cancer center and most often, because of their devoted service, patients know each of them more intimately than the staff. PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center currently has 400 volunteers doing a vast array of services daily at the hospital. In 2012, they tallied nearly 57,000 hours on behalf of the patients and staff.

Carol Brumet is outreach coordinator at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center.

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