Spending Time As A Volunteer Makes A Difference For One Patient

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By Tom Vetter, MD Anderson Cancer Center patient and volunteer

Tom Vetter was diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer last July, but he continues to work full time and spends one day a week volunteering at MD Anderson.

My name is Tom Vetter and I'm a cancer patient at MD Anderson.

When diagnosed last year, I was told that there was no cure for my advanced stage of cancer. All that really could be done was to try and buy me as much time as possible. It was not long after that I decided to put some of my precious spare time to the best possible use. I'm a volunteer at the Mays Clinic Hospitality Center on my day off from work.

For four hours each Tuesday I'm blessed to be a very small part of an amazing group of people who bring hope, comfort and compassion to those who walk through MD Anderson's doors. I had never volunteered before and wasn't sure how I'd react to be surrounded by so many others who shared cancer. But very quickly, I realized how important it can be for someone to be able to talk with or just sit with someone who not only can understand your thoughts and feelings but shares them as well.

No one better for a cancer patient to relate to than another cancer patient.

I believe when you're facing your own mortality you come to truly appreciate what's most important in your life. I'm newly married and my wife and family are my No. 1 concern and priority. But volunteering at MD Anderson every week brings me an irreplaceable sense of peace and purpose.

In truth, there is little I do as opposed to all the amazing professionals at MD Anderson. What I hope I can provide those I come in contact with is intangible. When patients and family enter the Hospitality Center, I hope I can provide them with something of benefit -- if only an open ear, an engaging conversation or a simple smile.

I know that when I leave MD Anderson each Tuesday afternoon, I have a wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishment. I encourage everyone, those with cancer and those without it, to share in those wonderful feelings and volunteer.

Anderson Network

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