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U-M CCC - Progress Newsletter Winter 2004 Online

Volunteer Spotlight

Ann Prebenda
Cancer Center Volunteer Since 1983


What got you started as a volunteer?

I've always done volunteer work, ever since my kids were young -- in their schools, at the local state hospital, all kinds of things.

What brought you to the Cancer Center?

I started volunteering in the hospital gift shop in 1982. When my son David was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in 1983, I moved over to the pediatric infusion area. And I never left.

Twenty years -- you must have so many memories . . .

So many wonderful memories. I recall Halloweens, with everyone all dressed up. And, (although some might want to forget this) -- some of the messes we made playing with the kids! Once we had a table that filled with water to float boats on, and once we had a "rice table” instead of a sandbox -- probably neither was a great idea, but both were so much fun. And I remember so many of the children I grew close to over the years. One young girl wouldn”t speak to anyone but me; she wouldn't leave my lap. I kept in touch with her and her family for years. Sadly, she passed away. I was so moved when I read her obituary and saw my name mentioned as her "foster grandmother.”

What would you say to people who might be considering volunteering, but are hesitating?

It sounds trite, but if you try it, you'll be hooked. People are afraid to be around sickness, but to me, it's about living -- in my case helping children get a laugh out of their day. Many times after I've been at the Cancer Center, I'm all smiles the rest of the day. I feel like I've won the lottery.


Feel like you've won the lottery. Five ways to give of yourself.

1. Meet, greet and point the way. Assist patients, families and visitors with information and provide directions around the Center and the community.

2. Phone, file, type or lick stamps. Clerical help is always needed in our clinics and offices.

3. Offer a cold drink, a soft blanket, or a warm smile. Help the nursing staff provide refreshments, comfort supplies and transport to patients in our infusion areas.

4. Turn a love of art into a healing art. Get involved with our Complementary Therapies Program, playing music, helping with art displays, or assisting with workshops or special events.

5. Don't want to go it alone? Get a group involved. Community groups are welcome to assist with special projects and events year-round.

Learn about the dozens of opportunities to get involved in the U-M Cancer Center by contacting Mary McCully, Volunteer Program Coordinator, at 734-936-8307. Or visit them online.

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Speak with a Cancer nurse: 1-800-865-1125
Please Note:

This article is part of the Cancer Center's News Archive, and is listed here for historical purposes.

The information and links may no longer be up-to-date.

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