April is National Volunteer Month, and one of our most exciting new programs wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers: CancerCare’s Pen Pal Program! The Pen Pal Program is offered in partnership with Caring About Seniors and connects older adults with volunteer letter-writers to reduce feelings of isolation through the pandemic and beyond.
After Sandra Lyu’s father, Seung, passed away from pancreatic cancer, she and her family decided to set up a special fundraiser in his memory, benefiting CancerCare’s free support services. After creating a Team CancerCare fundraiser page, the Lyu family has raised nearly $10,000 for anyone affected by cancer. “We are truly grateful to everyone who has donated,“ Sandra says. "Knowing the impact our father has had on so many people and to give back in honor of him has meant so much to our family during this very difficult time.”
Laurence, 64, is an architect, an artist, and also a prostate cancer survivor. The diagnosis at age 61 came as a huge surprise. “The news came via telephone, which was sort of a shock. I picked up the phone and was told by my doctor, ‘you have cancer’.”
Palliative care is specialized medical treatment that focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. Traditionally, palliative care has been accessed only toward the end of life. Many recent studies however, have shown that introducing it earlier into cancer patients’ care plans results in improved quality of life, living longer and lower medical costs.
Older adults find themselves in an increasingly complex medical system where they are expected to take an active role in managing their care when they may be unable to do so. Access to medical information through technology may prove confusing and cause patients to refrain from asking key questions about their care or feel unsure about where to access important and accurate health information.