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Volunteer profiles

Canadian Cancer Society volunteers represent a broad spectrum of ages, cultures, abilities and experiences. Each volunteer brings unique gifts through sharing their time, energy and skills.

Learn more about why people like you volunteer for the Society and the impact they are having in the fight for life.

Prevention volunteer

Support others going through cancer

Recent graduate

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Local volunteers

  • Jenna Gaube, advocacy volunteer

    Jenna Gaube was in high school when she started using tanning beds to achieve a healthy glow, against her parents’ wishes.

    She did not associate indoor tanning with skin cancer.

    She does now. And has since the spring of 2010, while working on a university-class assignment on indoor tanning.

    “I had no intentions of quitting, but I thought I would do a little research,” says Jenna, who was 23 and a "very active indoor tanner". She worked part time at a tanning salon and tanned before winter vacations.

    "Who knew this research would change my attitudes, beliefs and direction in life.”

    “What really bothers me is that tanning salons continued to tell me that I was getting a healthy dose of vitamin D, and that I needed a base tan to protect myself from burning. They also mentioned that it was important to have a base tan before going away on a hot holiday – all myths."

    Recently, Jenna encouraged Relay For Life participants to sign the Canadian Cancer Society petition asking the Saskatchewan government to prohibit the sale of indoor tanning services to people under the age of 18.

    “Minors need to be protected from using indoor tanning equipment,” Jenna says. “By signing the petition, we can be that ‘someone.’ We can help save lives by advocating for change.”

    Saskatchewan lags behind other provinces, such as Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Quebec, in protecting youth from the dangers of indoor tanning.

    Read more…

  • Terry Sparks, education volunteer

    Terry Sparks, an education volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, is a familiar face to students at Melfort’s four elementary schools.

    For more than seven years, Terry has been visiting classrooms to promote healthy lifestyle choices as a way to reduce students’ risk of getting cancer.

    She is one of three education volunteers in the North Eastern Unit and leads the education program. School visits are part of what the education volunteers do to raise awareness of cancer prevention in communities across the North Eastern Unit.

    Terry, a former teacher, talks to Grade 3 students about eating well and being active. She talks to Grade 4 students about not smoking.

    “The goal is to educate kids and get them enthused about making healthy lifestyle choices,” Terry says. “We want them to feel strong enough in themselves to make the right choices when they’re placed in front of them.”

    The discussions with the students are what Terry likes best about her classroom visits. “They’re very open, they’re honest; they want to learn,” Terry says about her audience members. “They go home and talk to their parents about what they learn.”

    Terry received thank-you letters last year from students in a couple of the classes she visited. She was thrilled.

    “It was amazing to read them,” Terry says. “It was wonderful. We do this every year and you wonder, ‘Are we making a difference?’ ” The pile of letters included messages from students who were not at school when the presentations took place. They learned from their classmates what they missed.

    “It makes it so worthwhile when you receive positive feedback,” Terry says about the time and effort involved in preparing the classroom presentations.

    Read more…

  • Cheryl and Darcy Scherle, volunteer drivers

    Cheryl and Darcy Scherle of Regina became volunteer drivers with the Canadian Cancer Society after a couple of family members, including Darcy’s sister, had gone through cancer treatment. Two to three days a month, Cheryl, a retired teacher, and Darcy, a retired pharmacist, help cancer patients get to and from their treatment and treatment-related appointments.

    “You’re helping make life a little easier for them,” Darcy says. “You’re being a positive, helpful person, taking care of one small part of their day they don’t have to worry about.”

    Getting to treatment and treatment-related appointments can be a challenge for cancer patients if they are too tired to drive because of treatment, stress about finding a parking spot, need help getting in and out of a vehicle, have no one to drive them, or face financial limitations.

    Volunteers like Cheryl and Darcy make it possible for cancer patients to focus on getting better and fighting cancer instead of worrying about how they will make it to the next appointment.

    They also help take some of the strain off family members, who do not have to take time off work to drive loved ones to their appointments.

    Cheryl and Darcy have been giving rides to cancer patients since June 2008. On a typical day, Cheryl and Darcy are giving lifts to 12 to 14 patients. On a slow day, they are helping 6 to 8 patients. Their busiest day? Eighteen patients.

    “You try to make their day brighter at a time they need a friendly face,” Cheryl says about what she and Darcy aim to do for each patient. One way the Scherles achieve this is by letting people choose the topics of conversation that take place during the ride (if they want to talk, that is). Most of the time people talk about something other than cancer.

    The Scherles do not give advice, but they will let a patient know when they have heard other patients saying something similar, thereby affirming what the patient is feeling or thinking. Patients are thankful for the rides and show their gratitude in different ways, including with cookies. The Scherles refuse offers of money and direct patients to make a donation to the Society.

    Cheryl and Darcy find it rewarding to assist people battling cancer. “There’s instant gratification,” Darcy says. “You can see right away that you’re helping a person.”

    Cheryl adds: “You remove a burden. You can take one brick out of the load and that makes you feel good.”

    Read more…

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  • Jayana Stevenson, fundraiser, mom

    Janaya Stevenson started running six years ago as a way to lose weight. A year later, she was taking part in running events.

    Janaya, 32, ran her first 5K race in August 2007. She completed her first 10K run the following month and finished her first half-marathon three months later.

    This year, the Warman resident is lacing up her running shoes to take part in 12 half-marathons while raising money for cancer research through the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fundraise for Life program.

    Janaya, the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 3, has run one half-marathon a month since January. She completed her “12 in 2012” project by the end of December.

    There is a history of cancer in Janaya’s family and in her husband’s family.

    Janaya’s mother’s mother, grandmother and an aunt had breast cancer. Her mother’s sister died of breast cancer when she was 40.

    “Now, as a mom, the thought of leaving my boys early is terrifying,” Janaya says.

    She would like her boys to live their lives without fearing cancer, or without fearing that they will pass it on to their children.

    Janaya’s close friend Heather had been fighting a brain tumour for 5 years when she was told she had terminal cancer, in November 2011. Heather died on January 8. She was 31.

    Janaya ran ran her first half-marathon of 2012 six days after Heather died. Around her neck Janaya wore something of Heather’s: the necklace she gave Heather when Heather was Janaya’s maid of honour. Janaya wears the gold chain with the letter H charm during every half-marathon.

    While Janaya enjoys the challenges half-marathons present, if she were not raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society, if she were not writing her blog, she would have stopped taking part in so many races in one year.

    When Janaya decided to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society, she had no expectations and no goal in mind. She would have been happy with whatever amount she collected.

    “I didn’t anticipate the response that I’ve received,” Janaya says.

    She received her first donation on January 1, her birthday. The $100 was from her brother. Heather’s father provided the second donation.

    Janaya raised almost $15,000 in support of the Canadian Cancer Society in 2012. She is grateful to everyone who has given.

    “Without the support and generosity of my friends, family and community, I’m just a mom who likes to run.”

    Read more…

    Hold your own fundraiser

To read about more incredible volunteers, sign up to receive Fight For Life, our monthly e-newsletter.

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A home away from home

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For cancer patients who must travel a great distance to get to treatment, Canadian Cancer Society lodges offer a welcoming place to stay.

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