By Support Volunteer Stef

I have been twice diagnosed with cancer: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in February 2009 and DCIS of the breast in February 2019. The underlying theme for me both times has been to focus on the fact I was given a very optimistic prognosis. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone, unfortunately, and I find maintaining the “gratitude attitude” has helped me tremendously.

The biggest difference between my two experiences was having the support of family for my HL, and having to pretty much get through DCIS alone. That was probably the most difficult part of my most recent diagnosis, having to ask for help from coworkers, neighbors and friends, which of course they gave so graciously.

I think one of the most important skills I have developed through this journey is to be my own advocate. I find even the best healthcare professionals can be overwhelmed by their patient load and it helps if you maintain that level of organization and awareness as to your treatment protocol. Something as simple as coming to appointments with questions/observations/concerns in hand means making the most of the time that I have with my healthcare team and accessing the resources available while I am there.

I had hoped my recent diagnosis was going to evolve into an employment opportunity as a “patient concierge” at my treatment facility. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all the plans and inroads I was making came to a halt. I decided that my goal of giving back had to take a different trajectory, and it led me to CHN in the hopes of becoming a volunteer.

I hope that I am able to help patients and caregivers feel validated, reassured, equipped, comforted and empowered.

Want to learn more about Stef’s journey? Discover tips and tricks she’s developed? Visit her website –