Student volunteers bring warmth to cancer centre

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 Every volunteer has their own story.

Samantha Nicholas became a volunteer because she wanted to honour her grandmother’s journey.

Haley Brough became a volunteer because she was inspired by all the people who helped her family through their cancer experience.

Harnoor Sidhu became a volunteer because she wanted to give back to her community through understanding cancer in all of its complexities, beginning with the people who walk through the Cancer Centre’s doors each day.

This shared desire to help improve the lives of others is what makes special. When Friday at noon hits, it’s their time to shine. Volunteer students Haley, Samantha and Harnoor offer their time and assistance to ’s Cancer Centre every Friday afternoon.

Even with their busy school and work schedules, Lakeridge Health’s student volunteers know that even if in a small way, they are making a huge difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families.

“I know that by volunteering I’m doing something meaningful and worthwhile,” says Haley Brough, TrentU graduate. “I’m helping my community in a unique way that I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do.”

Lakeridge Health depends on its volunteers to deliver the highest level of patient care. Even though these student volunteers don’t deliver direct patient care, their contribution to patient well-being is vital.

Harnoor Sidhu, who is a Health Sciences Student at UOIT, says, “Most of the time it’s the simplest things that count the most. Bringing a patient a warm blanket or a cup of tea can make a world of difference.”

These student volunteers agree that the biggest part of their role at Lakeridge Health is to make sure that patients are comfortable and to help them with any anxiety they may be feeling.

Adult and student volunteers bring a feeling of warmth and personal connection to the Cancer Centre. People coming through the doors feel more comfortable when they are greeted by the friendly face of a volunteer.

Samantha Nicholas, a third year nursing student at UOIT, says, “The best part is the conversations you get to have with patients. The connection feels especially meaningful when they come to get cancer treatment alone.”

“It’s actually kind of the reverse effect of what people might expect. The patients bring us joy,” says Haley, “And when patients finally complete their treatments, I can only begin to imagine what that must feel like.”

Lakeridge Health’s chemotherapy suite has a tradition where patients who finish their final treatment get to ring a bell.

“I love that patients have such a genuine happiness when they ring the bell,” says Samantha, “I’m extremely grateful that we get to all be a part of that celebration together.”

Harnoor also volunteers in other areas of the hospital. She says that when she is in the Cancer Centre, she is taken aback by the amount of patients and families who have surprisingly uplifting attitudes.

“People are incredibly strong in ways that can completely astonish you,” says Haley, “It is important to remember that even though cancer may change a person, it definitely does not define them.”

Samantha, Haley and Harnoor plan to continue volunteering at Lakeridge Healt