Hope delivered by a survivor

Jack Edgerton, a volunteer at the Upstate Cancer Center, is also a cancer survivor, which allows him to "sympathize and emphasize," he says. (PHOTO BY SUSAN KAHN)

Jack Edgerton, a volunteer at the Upstate Cancer Center, is also a cancer survivor, which allows him to “sympathize and empathize,” he says. (PHOTO BY SUSAN KAHN)

BY AMBER SMITH

The woman’s husband drove her to her cancer treatment until his boss told him he could not miss so much work. So her son started driving her. His grades suffered because he was missing so much school.

Sitting in the waiting room one day, the young man shared his situation with Jack Edgerton, a volunteer in the Upstate Cancer Center.

Edgerton helped connect the family with an American Cancer Society program that provides transportation. He was pleased he could help.

The truth is, as much as Edgerton helps others, they also are helping him.

It was Edgerton’s internal medicine doctor, Vincent Frechette, MD, who encouraged him to become a volunteer at the cancer center. “I think it would be good for you,” he told Edgerton.

Edgerton, 72 and new to retirement, agreed that he did not want to sit home watching television, feeling unproductive. He wanted to interact with others, and he was comfortable in a medical setting. Edgerton always wanted to be a doctor, but he transferred from pre-med to business in college when he learned he was color-blind. He wound up running the family import business and ad agency for 52 years.

Jack Edgerton of Manlius has a booth at the Central New York Regional Market. Look for him near the middle of the shed marked "A," selling honey and other products. (PHOTO BY DEBBIE REXINE)

Jack Edgerton of Manlius has a booth at the Central New York Regional Market. Look for him near the middle of the shed marked “A,” selling honey and other products. (PHOTO BY DEBBIE REXINE)

Today, his volunteer position at the cancer center allows him to spend time with patients and their loved ones two days a week. When they learn that he’s a cancer survivor, “they just open up,” he said. “I can sympathize and empathize.”

Edgerton underwent surgery for thyroid cancer in 2007. He had surgery again three years later to treat prostate cancer. He’s an example of a cancer survivor giving back.

He readily shares details of his experiences with people at the cancer center. He jokes that he’s Irish, so he’s got the gift of gab. Edgerton wants to give people hope — hope that they, too, can get through treatment — which is why he’s so generous with his time.

This article appears in the fall 2015 issue of Cancer Care magazine.

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