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Volunteer Stories

Karen Kuster

I love volunteering. I originally started because I wanted to see a more positive side of cancer. I have been an oncology nurse for 21 years (almost half of my life). I started in Pediatrics, love kids, and love to play. Noogieland has given me all of that.

My Dad died of lung cancer (smoking) in 1992. I learned more from that experience than I could ever learn as a nurse. I really learned that nurses don't know how it feels to watch a family member wither away and be destroyed by such an ugly disease. I also learned that any support is a huge help. A smile or hello can make the day a whole lot better.

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. Again, my own immortality was put to a test. I now have a family history of breast cancer -- I hate it, and there is nothing I can do about it. It was reinforced again that support is so important. I learned the value of asking family and friends how they were, instead of just asking about the patient. I had known these things for a long time, but I learned how important they are.

Oncology has made me a much different person. I am more aware and sensitive. Gilda's Club is a great place to practice what I know and preach. I get more than I give every time I am there. The way people care, and let you know it, is incredible. I felt welcomed the very minute I walked into the building for the first time. I want to thank everyone for that.

Did You Know?

FACT: Gilda's Club membership is free to everyone.

MYTH: People pay to join Gilda's Club.

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