FROM PATIENT TO VOLUNTEER
Dianne Mehaffey is a member of RVH’s Auxiliary and a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. She knits, walks, and spends as much time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as she can.
She volunteers on Monday afternoons at the welcome desk in the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre (SMRCC) and when it starts back up, she’ll be once again assisting with the Look Good, Feel Better program to help women with cancer feel better about themselves.
After all, she knows what that journey is like.
At the cancer centre welcome desk, she offers friendly waves to the familiar faces from her time receiving treatment and greets patients as they come in to receive theirs.
In 2013, Dianne was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At the time, she lived in Burke’s Falls. She felt unwell and looked a little yellow. Her doctor sent her to her local hospital in Huntsville and there, they took her directly to the ICU with an internal liver bleed. While she was in the ICU, she underwent a number of tests and received surprising results. She had lymphoma.
“I was in a fog,” she describes. “I had no time to process what was going on. I could only ask myself, ‘how come this happened?’ It was surreal in a lot of ways.”
Within three weeks of her diagnosis, she started chemotherapy at the SMRCC at RVH. She did three treatments before they were able to arrange for her to have the rest done in Huntsville. She returned to RVH for radiation afterward.
“The radiologist was so kind,” she says. “Everyone was, but he showed me what was going on and talked to me throughout my treatments. I had 18 sessions.”
Dianne has a very positive outlook on life.
“I know I have a responsibility in my healing, too,” she declares. “I have to have a good attitude and be kind to others and that will improve my outcome.”
Dianne is so grateful to her RVH care team and the wonderful volunteers who made all the difference during her journey. An interaction with one volunteer inspired her to take on the role herself.
“I was in the hospital for two weeks,” she remembers. “There was one volunteer who sat in the chair in my room, keeping me company, and telling me stories. She came back another time and talked about her life, growing up on a farm and never once brought up my cancer. She made me feel important. It was just beautiful.”
Now, Dianne has been a member of RVH’s Auxiliary, affectionately known as the Blue Brigade for seven years.
She knows that it is not just the people who provide the care who are important in a patient’s care journey. It’s also having access to the latest technology and equipment.
RVH Foundation’s Keep Life Wild campaign is fundraising $100 million to expand RVH to bring more specialized, world-class care to our region for everyone who needs it. This includes investing in state-of-the-art technology and bigger, better spaces, specifically designed for delivering that care.
Without medical advancements, Dianne feels she might not be here today.
“When I was going through treatment, my oncologist told me that if I were diagnosed even five years earlier, I might have been toast,” she says. “The specialized treatments I was having were not available then. That’s how fast science and technology can advance. And now imagine what it is like today, all these years later.”
While Dianne continues to deal with some of the side effects of her radiation treatments, she is cancer free and back to living a life full of joy being a grandmother and great-grandmother and giving back to her community.
To support the expansion of RVH and improved care for patients like Dianne, please make a donation today.