11 June 2012
Taylor Made for Volunteering
Chris Taylor, Macmillan volunteer from Nottinghamshire, shares with us her reasons for volunteering and her experiences of working with the Macmillan fundraising team in her local area.
Chris Taylor has been a volunteer for Macmillan Cancer Support in Nottinghamshire for just over a year. Chris enjoys being involved in voluntary work: “I firmly believe you get as much out of volunteering as you put in. I have the energy and feel fortunate to be helping a charity, like Macmillan Cancer Support, which has personally supported me. My volunteering makes me feel fulfilled, satisfied and I know I am contributing to an organisation which I can identify with.”
In March 2009 Chris was diagnosed with breast cancer whilst also caring for and nursing her husband Geoff whose spinal tumour and own cancer diagnosis was causing Chris concern. As Chris shares: 'It was vital to me, that I felt in control of what was happening in my life, I am an organised person and my mind was operating on various levels. Your learning curve is vertical and information is being picked up so quickly but I was anxious about how I was going to cope with my own imminent surgery and recovery, whilst looking after Geoff too.' A couple of days later, she received a phone call from a Macmillan Nurse who had been given the details of Chris and her husband via their medical professionals. Chris says: 'I was able to share how I was feeling and my concerns and within a day Geoff had respite care organised for him by the Macmillan Nurse. I was thrilled, it was a difficult time but you never feel alone if you’re being supported – not to be alone diffuses how anxious you are, by sharing I was dividing. It was only then, I was able to concentrate on my own surgery in the knowledge that Geoff was being cared for and I could focus on what was happening to me.'
At her check up appointment, three weeks later, Chris was told that her surgery had been successful and that she required no further treatment. Chris says: 'At the time, I felt amazed – it was the luckiest thing ever! Although I’ve always been a positive person, I felt so blessed and happy to have been given back my health.' On 21 May 2009 Geoff passed away with cancer within 8 weeks of Chris’ own diagnosis.
In September 2009 Chris held her first World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and by the following year her Chamber Choir ‘Harlequin’ held a concert with all proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support. She also thought about the prospect of becoming a volunteer and in the Spring of 2011 Chris began her role with clear memories of what she and her husband had gone through together two years previously.
Chris explains: 'It only took one phone call for me to become a firm supporter of the work of the charity. Prior to my phone call from the Macmillan Nurse, I was feeling anxious as a result of events moving so quickly but after the respite care had been organised, I felt euphoric and thrilled. Whoever you are, whatever it is, everyone needs someone to support them. Macmillan did something big for me at the exact time I needed them to.'
A year in to her volunteer role, Chris states: 'On average I give Macmillan two days a month of my time. In my role as volunteer I am reliable and dependable and I work closely with Helena the Fundraising Manager. As a volunteer I know I can say no if a date is not suitable. Although this is what I don’t want to say, I feel I can and Helena and I work together. Now, I am always aware of Macmillan around me, whether its information on a bus shelter poster or a collection tin whilst I’m out shopping. I feel a real sense of belonging and I know how important Macmillan is to me and my experience as carer, cancer sufferer, supporter, and now volunteer too! I feel privileged.'
Helena Monk, Fundraising Manager for Nottinghamshire says: 'I am really grateful to Chris for sharing her reasons for wanting to support Macmillan Cancer Support. Volunteer Week is a super way of recognising those who give their time to benefit the lives of others. I would like to thank Chris and all our Supporters who continue to give their time, whether they have chosen to be a volunteer working directly with me, or a fundraising group member or one of the many individuals who choose to organise and participate in events in their leisure time, or at work or within their educational environment. We could not continue to support those affected by cancer without individuals who give their time to make a difference and I feel extremely proud of our Supporters here in Nottinghamshire.'
Helena appreciates how poignant the first week in June, is for Chris, as Geoff’s life was celebrated with family, friends and colleagues on 4 June 2009. Every year, Volunteer Week celebrates everyone who gives their time to support a cause which means something special to them. Chris shares: 'I know Geoff would have thought it was brilliant that I am now a volunteer for Macmillan. He was happy if I was happy. This is now part of my life and I enjoy doing it and I always feel a sense of fulfilment. I don’t mind what I do, so long as it’s helping the charity I believe in.'
If Macmillan Cancer Support is your charity and you would like to get involved with volunteering your time in a way that suits you, please contact Macmillan Cancer Support on 0300 1000 200 to find out more or go to www.macmillan.org.uk
For more information please call Helena Monk, Fundraising Manager for Nottinghamshire, Macmillan Cancer Support on 07834 192228
Editor's Notes: Macmillan Cancer Support provides the expert care and emotional support that makes a real difference to people living with cancer. We offer a range of innovative cancer services and are at the heart of improving cancer care throughout the UK.
For cancer information and support, contact the Cancer Support Direct (Monday – Friday, 9.00am – 10.00pm) by freephone: 0808 808 0000, textphone: 0808 808 0121 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or log on to www.macmillan.org.uk