It’s National Volunteer Week and that means…we have the chance to recognize the tenacious and inspirational individuals who make our mission possible. From speakers to advocates to fundraisers and more, our volunteers bring our mission to the local level. Colon Cancer Alliance volunteers are the hands and feet of our organization. After all, where would we be in the fight against colon cancer without them? It is truly our honor to recognize our volunteers this week, and thank you to ALL of the amazing people who help move our mission forward!
“I am a volunteer because I believe that no one should have to go through this without support. There are so many advantages to being part of community of people who share the suffering, joys and fears about their cancer journey as well as vital information about medical care. I have witnessed the deepest human compassion and an incredible demonstration of strength through my relationships formed through Colon Cancer Alliance. We are a family in the truest sense of the word because we accept one another just as we are.” – Sue Kidera, My CCA Support Online Community moderator
Grace De La Rosa was 38 when she was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2005. Her husband was a pilot in the Navy, and their children were 14 and three at the time. She has no family history of cancer. She was a former swimwear model, fitness instructor and fitness competitor. She worked out religiously and ate healthy foods, so she was shocked when she heard the words, “You have cancer.”
“I searched online to reach out to someone – anyone – in my age bracket who went through colon cancer, who could perhaps give me some hope and motivation to move forward. I was scared because I didn’t know what to expect.”
There were no real-time chat forums or Facebook at that time. That’s when she decided to post her cancer journal entries online. She shared her journey – symptoms and side effects she experienced – with others affected by colorectal cancer, to let them know they are not alone and that they too could
overcome the emotional and physical challenges from this disease.
Soon, Grace found the Colon Cancer Alliance and immediately knew that she wanted to be a Buddy volunteer. Grace received many emails through her site from patients, survivors and caregivers over the years and always shares a link to My CCA Support Online Community with new patients and caregivers as a resource for all things related to colon cancer support.
“There’s nothing like connecting with other patients or survivors. Being a Colon Cancer Alliance Buddy volunteer is another means for me to not only help support others who are affected by this disease, but it’s also a way for me to receive support when I’m going through my own medical issues, whether by email, through My CCA Support Online Community, daily web chats or on the Colon Cancer Alliance Facebook group page.
This year marks her 9th year as a survivor and her first year actively raising community awareness during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. She calls her awareness campaign Be a Blue Buddy, a name that pays tribute to Colon Cancer Alliance’s Buddy volunteer program. Be a Blue Buddy is not a non-profit organization, but rather a personal call to action to educate her community about colorectal cancer, the importance of screening and early detection through speaking presentations, video production and social media.
She garnered both FL Governor Rick Scott and Jacksonville, FL Mayor Alvin Brown’s support in recognizing March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Dress in Blue Day.
Local media caught wind of Grace’s story, including her invitation to participate in Dress in Blue Day. Folks near and far sent photos of themselves, their children, pets and colleagues dressed in blue, all of which are featured on Be a Blue Buddy’s Facebook page.
She also raised funds during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and will donate net proceeds to the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Blue Note Fund grant program.
“I feel good knowing that the monies raised will go directly to patients and their families during their time of need. Because the last thing anyone undergoing treatment needs is to worry about mounting medical bills.”
WE volunteer because 960 Arizonans die annually from this disease...that’s 19 friends, neighbors and family members a week
WE volunteer because Betty Rose wouldn’t take no for an answer
WE volunteer because we lost a beloved father, patriarch and grandfather
WE volunteer because no 41-year-old mother should ever hear the words “you have cancer”
WE volunteer because both parents died from cancers within three days of being released from the hospital after a colon resection
WE volunteer because we want to save lives and help patients through the Blue Note Fund
WE volunteer because we want to advocate on a national level in honor of our beloved mother and because we were diagnosed with cancer just like our father
WE volunteer because we hate what radiation’s side effects do to us
WE volunteer because we were diagnosed at age 45 with no family history of cancer
WE volunteer because 20 year olds shouldn’t die from this disease
WE volunteer because we want to connect to our community and because we desire a common goal...a world free from preventable colorectal cancers
WE volunteer because we mourn for all the thousands of Arizona's who die before we get to know them
WE volunteer for Betty Rose, for Marty, for Arijit and for dear sweet Rebekah
“I have become passionate about colon cancer awareness because of my own experience. I have never really been passionate about anything as much as I
am now. I became a volunteer for the Colon Cancer Alliance because you all have taught me so much through information and support that I wanted to contribute in some way. To give back, or pay it forward. When I was asked to be a Buddy I felt I wasn’t experienced enough to do that, but realized being a Buddy is simply being a friend to someone going through or having gone through similar experiences. Sharing and being there for a person. Then when I was asked about being a moderator in the My CCA Support Online Community, again I felt that I wasn’t qualified and that I couldn’t possibly have anything to offer. Randy Henniger and Jeannie Moore helped me realize that all I have to do is do what I do… and I do.
When I was first diagnosed in 2009 I found the Colon Cancer Alliance online, I read a lot on the website, popped into the chat room once or twice and felt weird about sharing my experiences to people I never met. I thought to myself, why would I open my life to strangers? When I had my recurrence in 2012, I decided to give this chat room thing a chance and try it again. That was the best decision I ever made! Over time I became very comfortable about sharing. Through my sharing I became sure that I was on the right path. For the first time I felt like I was helping. I met people in the chat room and shared so much that I made lifelong friends and never met face to face. When I went to the National Conference I had the opportunity to meet some of these wonderful people and it was like seeing old friends with hugs, real hugs not virtual hugs. I am grateful for many things in my life. High on that list is the Colon Cancer Alliance. I feel rewarded by just being a volunteer. I like to help people anyway I can.” – Harry Gorlick, My CCA Support Online Community moderator
Interested in becoming a volunteer? Check out all of the opportunities and decide which works best for you - we'd love to have you!