While most of us were out battling the snow trying to get to work this morning, volunteers young and old were fighting the elements to get to Montreal’s St. Mary’s Hospital to bring holiday joy to cancer patients.
“Helping them makes me feel great, seeing that little spark in their eye,” said Marie-Anne Laplante, a grade 11 student at Henri-Bourassa High School.
She and a group of her classmates were there to sing Christmas carols and hand out cookies and cards to cancer and palliative care patients.
“Old people, sometimes they don’t have people to talk to. So I just like talking to them, giving them things and making them smile,” said student Adam Fatheddine. Fatheddine said the visit to the Palliative Care Unit was particularly special for him because some members of his family had dealt with cancer.
The teens were bringing the joy on Tuesday, but others like Jenny Baluch have been bringing it to St. Mary’s for decades. Baluch has been volunteering in the cancer department for 32 years.
“When I watch all that they’re going through, I certainly have nothing to complain about. My little aches and pains are nothing,” she told Global News.
“If I could just hold one hand, my day is made,” she said.
Bruce Prentice has volunteered at St. Mary’s for 12 years, and for reasons he can’t quite explain, he only wants to work with palliative care patients.
“I really don’t know why. I just feel it after I spend time with the patients. It’s very satisfying,” he said.
Though people like Baluch and Prentice make vital contributions at St. Mary’s every day, they can always use more volunteers.
“If you feel like you have the qualifications, the passion for the patients that go through such a heavy burden, this is the place for you,” said Maya Jeanty, the head nurse of the Oncology Department at St. Mary’s.