Volunteers dispense comfort in cancer center

Linda Bigsby distributes drinks and snacks in the infusion area of the Upstate Cancer Center. Adults interested in volunteering in the center can call 1-315-464-5180. Volunteers are needed daytime from Monday to Friday, to assist patients in the infusion areas and to staff a “Comfort Cart.”

Linda Bigsby distributes drinks and snacks in the infusion area of the Upstate Cancer Center. Adults interested in volunteering in the center can call 1-315-464-5180. Volunteers are needed daytime from Monday to Friday, to assist patients in the infusion areas and to staff a “Comfort Cart.”

The gesture may seem small, but for the cancer patient who feels chilly during infusion, the offer of a warm blanket provides much more than creature comfort.

“I do the simplest of things, but people are so appreciative,” says Linda Bigsby of Camillus, a volunteer assigned to the Upstate Cancer Center.

After retiring from a career as a nurse, Bigsby found time to give back to her community. She has volunteered the past five years at Upstate University Hospital. She started in the pediatric intensive care unit and then transferred into oncology.

“I liked it immediately,” she said. “I love the constant interaction. You almost become friends with the patients. You end up spending time talking with them, looking at photographs, hearing about their lives.”

Bigsby offers snacks if a patient is hungry, magazines if he or she wants to read, companionship if he or she is alone. She says she has learned to tell when people wish to be left alone, and when they want company.

Bigsby and the other volunteers from the cancer center are going through the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Resource Volunteer program so they are familiar with the resources available from the society. That way, as the volunteers get to know patients, they will be able to suggest appropriate programs and services that might be helpful, along with the creature comforts the provide.

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