Kathy, the second member of the gift shop volunteer team, learned “by accident” that she had cancer. In 2012, during her annual checkup, a suspicious spot showed up on her chest X-ray. After a CT scan and a biopsy, Kathy was told she had a very rare form of cancer in her trachea.
The day of her surgery, her husband had a stroke. She doesn’t talk much about her cancer and her surgery; she was focused on her husband and his recovery. “I am so grateful for the support groups Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute offers. They helped me through some pretty difficult days.”
After her surgery, Kathy needed 31 radiation treatments at GHCI, followed by many follow up visits. Haesook Kim, MD, radiation oncologist at the institute, oversaw her treatment every step of the way.
“She is an incredible physician and woman,” Kathy says. “When Dr. Kim retired last year, she spent over a year searching for the perfect replacement, someone who would love her patients just as much as she did. It was that important to her that her patients remained in capable and loving hands. Dr Paul Kocheril was the physician she chose. He brings all of the same skills and compassion of Dr. Kim.
“Through my treatments at GHCI and my participation in many of the programs the institute offers free of charge to its patients, I have learned so much, I have grown so much, I have made so many friendships and I’ve been able to help others through their hardships,” Kathy is proud to say.
“I feel at home here (GHCI). There’s always something or someone who needs some help and I am grateful I can share my story and my support.”
When Kathy was asked to volunteer at the gift shop, she didn’t hesitate to say yes. “I wanted to give something back to those who were with me every step of the way during my cancer treatments,” she announces. “Everyone at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute is so wonderful. I feel like they are my family.”
From working at the gift shop, Kathy has learned “I can provide support to other patients undergoing treatment. When I tell them I am a cancer survivor, it seems to relieve their fear and anxiety. One day, a patient came in and was in tears. She felt her life was over when she received her diagnosis. We talked for awhile, and she left feeling hope again. Helping her also gave me more strength,” Kathy finds. “So many patients come into the gift shop and ask us to pray for them. We do a lot of praying around here.”
“Volunteering at the gift shop takes my mind off my troubles,” reports Millie, who proudly claims herself as one of the three musketeers in the gift shop. She finds the programs GHCI offers for patients invaluable. “After class, I am totally ready to face whatever is in front of me.”