Brian urges people to help cancer charity

Brian Connolly (70) is from Moira and a volunteer with Macmillan Cancer Support, having been inspired by the care he received from Macmillan nurses at Craigavon Hospital after his cancer diagnosis.

Brian, a Macmillan Telephone Buddy Volunteer from Moira
Brian, a Macmillan Telephone Buddy Volunteer from Moira

The charity urgently needs volunteers to help people living with cancer feel less isolated and Brian is keen to share his experience of volunteering and how it has enriched his life.

“I’ve been a Macmillan Volunteer for around four years, initially as a face-to-face community helper, and lately as a telephone buddy during the pandemic,” he explained. “I worked in a public-facing role for many years, meeting and helping people. When I retired, I really missed that type of work. I’ve always been very citizenship-minded too and have looked for opportunities to give back throughout my life.

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“About a year into my retirement, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. When I recovered from chemotherapy and surgery, I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to Macmillan in some way, the charity that helped me through it. I thought about what I could offer that would be valuable to the charity – my time, my experience, my people skills - and volunteering was the perfect fit.

“I started as a face-to-face community helper and recently as a result of covid, I’ve been a Macmillan telephone buddy. This means that I have a weekly one hour call with someone who is living with cancer and wants a regular chat. Macmillan often talks about how cancer affects every part of life and through my work as a volunteer, I know that I’m helping people in some way to deal with difficult times – I remember how I felt when it was happening to me.”

“As a telephone buddy, I have a conversation with the person I’m matched to. Sometimes cancer comes up, but often we just talk about the usual things – weather, books, tv, the news, that type of thing. I hope that I’m helping to bring a sense of normality. I can also help signpost people to services that might help them further, and I’m that listening ear that reminds people that they’re not alone.”

“We all know too well that one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. When I was ill, Macmillan was there for me, and now that I’m recovered, I’m there for someone else who needs support too.”

The charity is also looking for people who could provide face-to-face support in the local community.

To find out more contact Sharon Gorman, Volunteering Services Delivery Lead, on 07821 687 349 or visit macmillan.org.uk/volunteering.