17 August 2015
Volunteer Shona MacKenzie with Marie Purves, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January.
Shona MacKenzie, a volunteer with Macmillan Cancer Support’s Helping Matters service, has been providing emotional support to Marie Purves, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January.
When Shona MacKenzie’s mother was diagnosed with cancer she and her father struggled to juggle her care with their full-time jobs.
The child-minder, who was just 21 at the time, had to rely on the support of friends to go in and check on her mum during the day.
Now, more than 20 years later, she works as a volunteer with Macmillan Cancer Support’s Helping Matters service which provides practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer.
“When my mum was ill there was not the same support as there is today,” says Shona, from Livingstone.
“After my experience with my mum I wanted to give something back and to help people who are in the same situation as we were back then.”
When Shona heard the Helping Matters service was looking for volunteers in West Lothian, she got in touch with Macmillan.
As part of the service, volunteers are matched with a person or family affected by cancer who they visit for a couple of hours a week for a period of up to 12 weeks.
For the last 18 months, the mother-of-two has kept Tuesday mornings free to devote to her volunteer work.
In that time she has done light housework duties for the family of a young child with cancer and provided emotional support to an elderly man.
Her most recent match was with 77-year-old Marie Purves, from Linlithgow, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in January.
“She’s been a complete inspiration,” says Shona. “Her cancer is still there and she doesn’t know how long she has got but she feels she’s been given a second chance.
“We have been out for walks to help improve her mobility but mostly we just sit and chat.”
“It’s been lovely having Shona,” says Marie. “I can talk to her about things I can’t speak to my family about. I am very happy with the help I have been given. I appreciate it very much.”
As well as providing support for people affected by cancer, Shona says she has also benefited personally from her volunteer work.
“Volunteering for Macmillan has helped me personally,” she says. “It’s been healing in a way. It’s let me go out and help people as best I can and just be grateful for the time I had with my mum. I am glad I can help others and give something back.”
For more information about how to become a volunteer, contact Paula Moncrieff on 0131 260 3720, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website.