In Compassionate Company|
"I See There is a Need" - What CAnCare Means to me"
By Carmen K.
As told to Laura Overturf
Carmen K. is a beautiful, energetic woman who attends FUMC-Westchase with her husband, Ken. In 1992, Carmen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to follow her doctor's prescription for fighting the disease, and with radiation and chemotherapy, she endured months of discomfort, weakness and bedrest. "I thought I would never get well again," Carmen remembers. Love from her family, miracle drugs, and a radical change in her eating habits have given Carmen a new start, and a healthier life than ever. To give other cancer patients hope for a long AND healthy life, Carmen volunteers with CAn Care.
The mission of CAnCare is to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors and their families through a network of congregations in the community. When Carmen joined CAnCare, she had just been diagnosed with cancer and had many questions, worries, and grumblings to express. "You just want to talk. I don't know why-it's the strangest thing," she says.. The simple act of telling her story to a compassionate listener showed Carmen how talking can heal the body, mind and spirit.
What drew you to CAnCAre?
"The reason that I joined CAn Care was that I was greatly assisted by CAnCare when I was going through my cancer experience. I felt I needed someone to talk to that had gone through the same thing that I had gone through. I had support from my loved ones, but that did not seem to be enough."
"My husband, who was then my fiance, saw that I really needed to talk to someone when I was going through my radiation and all. He found the CAnCare advertisement on a FIESTA bag, and said why don't you call this number? So I did, and the lady who was assigned to me was wonderful! She came over to my home for a visit and I was able to just talk, and she listened, and what a relief that was. I could see that she indeed was a survivor, and that that could happen to me, too. So later, when I saw the church advertisement for CAn Care soliciting trainees, I felt compelled to join. I have been in it ever since."
Why do you stay involved?
"I see there is a need. I have had some referrals patients referred to me, and some of them have turned out to be people who have become my personal friends on an ongoing basis. I still assist them as they are still going through their cancer experience. I also like the camaraderie and the events that CAnCare hosts for its sponsors and its volunteers. There is a certain unity among cancer survivors and spouses and friends of cancer survivors."
If you could personally thank Jesus for something in CAnCare, what would that be?
"I would just say that I prayed that something good would come from my cancer experience. Yes, once you're faced with your own mortality, you do begin to prioritize things differently in your life. I am grateful that the Lord has given me this opportunity to minister to those who are going through a cancer experience. One of my practices is to always pray when I am contacted by someone to talk about their cancer experience. Somewhere in there I always interject a prayer for healing and comfort."
You can read more of Carmen's views on the power of a healthy diet on her web page, which can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/ia/trikay
Introduction to CAnCare
What is CAnCare?
CAnCare of Houston, Inc. is an interfaith ministry that trains cancer survivors to offer one-on-one support to newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families.
Referrals are matched with volunteers by cancer site, type of treatment, age, gender and family situation.
With an understanding that only one who has been there can know, CAnCare volunteers offer themselves as a friend who will listen non-judgmentally, speak words of encouragement and share the hope that life can be reclaimed after a cancer diagnosis.
CAnCare was founded in 1990. Since then, it has grown to include 40 member congregations in the Houston area and has trained more than 600 volunteers, including many from First United Methodist Church's two congregations. In fact, FUMC has been an active participant in the CAnCare ministry for about six years.
Did You Know?
- 495 cancer patients and their family members received one-on-one support from trained volunteers and staff through the CAn Care program.
- 950 cancer patients in 4 hospitals received personal visits by CAn Care volunteers.
- 1,140 people received one-time listening support, and information and referral to cancer resources.
- 66 volunteers graduated from training, bringing the total of active volunteers to 390 at year-end.
- 248 volunteers attended CAnCare's continuing education programs.
- 2,564 people attended CAnCare's community education events and volunteeri staff speaking engagements.
- 41 congregations from throughout the Houston area supported CAnCare.
Visit the CAnCare website at http://www.cancare.org for more information on this growing community-wide ministry. Phone 713-461-0028, email firstname.lastname@example.org.