Finding Your Voice: Advocacy and Volunteerism in Action
Posted on August 28, 2013
Standing up for what you believe in takes spirit, bravery and passion. This month, two of our devotees deserve some extra special recognition.
Randy Cox and Debbie Whitmore are both stage IV colon cancer survivors. In March, the duo shared their stories at an event at Boston Scientific and employees at Boston Scientific were so inspired by their stories that the company became the founding partner of our soon-to-debut Screening Assistance Program. Now that’s applause worthy! We sat down with Randy and Debbie to find out what events they’ve been involved with and what they’ve gotten out of their years of volunteering.
How have you been involved with the Colon Cancer Alliance?
Randy: I’ve been involved with everything from staffing information tables, sharing my story publicly and being a panelist at events. I also participate in the CCA’s Buddy Program and in a similar program at Dana Farber called One-to-One. In March, I spoke at a Boston Scientific event about the importance of early screening which has led to some really great initiatives.
Debbie: I spread the word on colon cancer as often as I can. I first started in 2012, when I was the speaker at our local Relay for Life. Early this year, I spoke to about 800 people at an American Cancer Society fundraiser and then in March, I spoke at a Boston Scientific event in Marlborough, MA, and at the Sanofi Aventis colorectal cancer conference. I was still connected to my 5-FU pump!
You’re both involved with so much. Does it ever become overwhelming?
Randy: For talks and panel discussions, I try to share my emotional journey with as much honesty as I can muster without falling apart on stage. Sometimes it’s hard, but my goal has always been to make the audience stop thinking of patients as anonymous things, and make them think of us as real people.
Debbie: I never knew I could speak in front of people before I started volunteering. I think with this stage IV diagnosis, I have become a stronger person. I want to help others. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself of how I don’t want anyone else to experience the physical and mental struggles dealing with a terminal illness.
Why is volunteering important to you?
Randy: I have really appreciated the opportunities I’ve had to share my experiences as a colon cancer patient. I want to help as many people as possible avoid joining our cancer club and I want the medical establishment to create more effective treatments with fewer side effects.
Debbie: Being a CCA volunteer is so rewarding. I’ve been able to speak with other patients through the Buddy Program; I have met other CCA volunteers, like Randy, at the CCA conferences and events and I’ve formed supportive relationships. Even if I am tired from my treatment, I can still “put on the adrenaline,” as I say, and push through a speech, knowing that my story may help save someone’s life one day. That’s what makes my fight worth it.
Interested in becoming a CCA volunteer? We have a spot for you!