A Different Kind of Care: Hillman Cancer Center Volunteers

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 In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 23-29, 2017), we are recognizing the important work our volunteers do to assist our mission here at UPMC. To learn more about volunteering at a UPMC facility, visit our Volunteer Services page here.


“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

– Oscar Wilde

Employees of UPMC CancerCenter are more than cancer treatment providers; they form a support system that gives patients the confidence that they can win their battles with cancer. Two hundred-plus UPMC CancerCenter volunteers are an invaluable part of that support system, and so are the employees who manage them. Laurin Scanlon, Volunteer Coodinator, and Denise DiTommaso, Administrative Assistant to Volunteer Services, manage the volunteers at Hillman Cancer Center. As Laurin aptly wrote in her blog feature, “We are more than medicine; with a welcoming smile, friendly volunteers, and comfort, we can be life-changing.”

“When they’re looking at you, they’re looking at hope,” said one volunteer you’ll meet below. UPMC CancerCenter volunteers have touched the lives of thousands of patients and their families in Pittsburgh and beyond. In honor of National Volunteer Week, and in recognition of the important work our volunteers do to further our mission here at UPMC, we are pleased to tell their remarkable stories of hope and kindness. We hope these stories inspire you to see how life-changing moments start with you!

Amy & Sherman 

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Amy Bischoff, a long-time employee of UPMC, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. When she was declared cancer-free in 2011, she decided the best way to move forward was to actually go back. Four years later, Amy and her two Newfoundlands, Sherman and Olive, now volunteer their time at Hillman Cancer Center as a way of giving back and paying it forward. Sherman and Olive are arguably the most popular volunteers at Hillman Cancer Center and are certainly the furriest! Thank you Amy, Sherman, and Olive for your service to UPMC and the special way you lift the spirits of patients and their families!

Kevin

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When Kevin retired, he was planning to continue volunteering in the Pittsburgh area. What he wasn’t planning on was being diagnosed with lymphoma and entering Hillman Cancer Center, not as a volunteer, but as a patient. Kevin said that being in the hospital was a difficult experience, but that he always appreciated the volunteers who went out of their way to help him during his time as a patient. Kevin now spends one day a week delivering meals and visiting with patients. “I know what they’re going through,” Kevin said. “Volunteering is something I look forward to doing as long as I can.”

Mary Alice

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Thirteen years have passed since Mary Alice received treatment for her breast cancer diagnosis, which she received at Magee Women’s Hospital since Hillman Cancer Center was not built until 2002. “Things like giving people cookies and being friendly to everyone—those things matter. Regular interactions matter. As a volunteer, I love giving people the support they need.”

Kathy 

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Like Mary Alice and Amy, Kathy is also a breast cancer survivor with an incredible story of recovery and resilience. On the last day of her chemo treatments, with only a quarter of an inch of hair left on her head, Kathy headed downstairs to the front desk of Hillman Cancer Center to sign up for an interview to become a volunteer there. On her birthday, Kathy would sign in for her first volunteering slot—a monumental and truly celebratory day for her. She’s known as “The Hat Lady” by volunteers and patients, because she spends much of her free time and her own money making and giving away hats of all kinds to patients battling the same disease as she did. “When they’re looking at you, they’re looking at hope,” said Kathy.


A little act of kindness truly goes such a long way here at UPMC! We give a special thank you to Amy, Kevin, Mary Alice, and Kathy for sharing their stories of resilience, hope, and service that is making a difference in the lives of patients at Hillman Cancer Center. On behalf of UPMC, we thank CancerCenter volunteers and the hundreds of other selfless folks who volunteer their time and talents to advance our mission of bringing life-changing medicine to our communities and patients. We couldn’t do this without you!

Learn how you can become a UPMC CancerCenter volunteer, and join a team that plays an important part in our mission to changes lives.