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Methodist Health Welcomes Chemo Buddies: Volunteers Needed

blog imageChemo Buddies volunteers serve as companions for patients and help with snacks, books, games and the kind of hospitality you would hope to receive if you were visiting someone’s home. Their goal is to make chemo a more comfortable and life giving experience physically, mentally and spiritually. The program’s motto is: “No one should ever have to go through chemo alone.”

Mike Russ has been a Chemo Buddy for the past four-and-a-half years. He started volunteering at Oncology Hematology Associates in Evansville, but has made the transition to become the “point person” for the Chemo Buddies program at Methodist Health’s new Hematology and Oncology Infusion Services.

“My wife and I have lived in Henderson since 2011 so I sometimes run into people I know,” said Russ. “There is a great group of nurses and staff here and I really, really enjoy it.”

Russ retired in 2011 from the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation and took his time choosing the kind of volunteer work he wanted to do. Once he started as a Chemo Buddy, he was hooked. He volunteers once a week for four hours.

“It is just a blessing to be here,” he continued. “There are so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I love hearing their stories and spending time with them at what is a stressful period of their lives.”

The first day a new patient arrives, they receive a goodie bag from Chemo Buddies, filled with items donated or purchased by people who support the program. “We also give them a fleece blanket or quilt. Sometimes other things like hats or scarves are donated. We want to do all we can to make their time here a little brighter and bring them a few laughs,” he said, noting they also are here as a support to the family members and caregivers.

Chemo Buddies is a grassroots nonprofit organization that provides a group of dedicated volunteers who serve cancer patients while they are in the treatment room receiving chemotherapy. Chemo is time consuming — it can take up to eight hours — and this leaves many patients without their normal support person or family member.

For more information on becoming a Chemo Buddy volunteer, contact Sarah Smith, MSN, RN, Oncology Nurse Navigator at Methodist Health, at 270-869-6147 or ssmith@methodisthospital.net. More information on the program is also available on the Chemo Buddies website at mychemobuddies.org.

For questions regarding this press release, please contact Brandi L. Schwartz at 270-831-7836 or bschwartz@methodisthospital.net.