This image shows a photo of Andrea, and the words: Volunteers' Week, Andrea's Story

Today it's time for the second of our blogs to celebrate Volunteers' Week. It's a guest blog from one of our reviewers Andrea, who shares her cancer experience, and talks about volunteering for Macmillan.

My name is Andrea and my cancer experience began when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Never in my wildest dreams did I image what a roller coaster ride it would be. Nothing really prepares you for the physical and emotional effects cancer has on you, your friends, and your family.

My friends would say ‘you seem so positive’. Some days this was easier said than done! I kept telling myself that when it was all over, something positive would come out of it, and so it did. I started to fundraise for the Children’s Cancer Unit at my local hospital. Being able to make a difference to other cancer patients was really uplifting. Six years on and I’m still fundraising!

This really opened my mind, so when I read about the Macmillan Buddying scheme, I just had to get involved (you can search for Practical and Emotional Support Volunteer roles on the Volunteering Village). This was my first experience of volunteering, so naturally I was a bit apprehensive. From day one I was put at ease. Macmillan provided coaching before I started the role, and I had access to the online learning zone. The coordinators were at the end of the phone and there was peer support from other buddies. The well-being of volunteers seems very important to Macmillan. The buddying itself was a humbling experience, in some cases just being a friendly ear or somewhere to let off steam. For others, it was sharing an experience which helped to take away some of their fear as they started out on their treatment, which was so rewarding.

As the buddy trial ended, I was keen to explore other opportunities. After reading about reviewers, I decided to give it a try. Reviewing appealed to me because I thought I would be able to use my experience positively to improve information for other people. It is very flexible and I can offer up as much or as little time that suits me. I tend to pick topics that I (or close friends or family) have had experience of. The deadlines are usually quite generous, so I have plenty of time to fit it in. I am honest with my feedback and offer up suggestions. Once the review is submitted, I generally get a bit of feedback. This is helpful so that I know I’m on the right track!

Alongside this, I also support Macmillan Minds, here I get emails on an ad-hoc basis and am invited to give opinions on a range of things – such as new advertising campaigns.

Before my diagnosis, the thought of getting involved with volunteering never crossed my mind.
I’m so glad that I took the plunge, and would definitely encourage others to try it.

Sometimes people say to me ‘I don’t know where you find time’ but most of us could find an hour or two to spare. What can be achieved in those few hours is beyond measure. Even though I only do a few hours here and there, I feel like a valued part of 'Team Macmillan'.

To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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