|DON SUTENBACH IS AN EDWARD HOSPITAL VOLUNTEER WHO HELPS PATIENTS IN THE EDWARD CANCER CENTER'S FACES OF HOPE PROGRAM
Small kindnesses can make a big difference for people going through a tough experience, such as cancer treatment.
That's why the Edward Cancer Center has a group of volunteers called Faces of Hope who focus on giving extra TLC to patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. This can mean offering a warm blanket or drink, or supplying a few words of encouragement.
Staff from Edward Hospital's Volunteer Services Dept. and the Cancer Center interview volunteers who are interested in the program to see if they're the right match. Selected volunteers then go through both general and Cancer Center-specific volunteer training.
"Most of the Faces of Hope volunteers have had cancer treatment in the past themselves, or they’ve been caregivers," says Linda Conlin, LCSW, psychosocial coordinator for the Cancer Center.
Don Sutenbach, 58, a former IT manager, is a Faces of Hope volunteer.
"It gives us a chance to let them know they're with other people who understand what they're going through," says Sutenbach.
And Sutenbach does understand. In 1990, his wife Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then in 2002, the Sutenbachs lost Margaret's brother and Don's father to cancer. In 2003, Don faced his own diagnosis of prostate cancer, and Margaret's cancer recurred in 2006 as Stage IV.
"I'm glad to say Margaret and I are doing well thanks to the excellent treatment we received at Edward Cancer Center," he says.
"I see the Cancer Center as a place of hope, and I feel privileged to help people who are starting on this journey," says Sutenbach. "It's become a calling for me, and I enjoy getting to know the patients. You help them pass the time and then the next time you see them, you get a smile."
To find out about volunteering at Edward, visit www.edward.org/volunteer or call (630) 527-3189.