Linda Thomas, RN, a three-year breast cancer survivor, will visit breast cancer patients as a Gillespie Unit of the American Cancer Society (ACS) volunteer. She completed the ACS Reach to Recovery training in Austin, and Hill Country Memorial Hospital is referring interested breast cancer patients to her.
She said her visit can be a message of hope and inspiration to a breast cancer patient.
“I can show a cancer patient that I live well,” Ms. Thomas said. “I’m in great health and I have a wonderful life. As a woman goes through the emotions of diagnosis, treatment, the side-effects, hair-loss and more, it helps to have a role model. My attitude is to be a survivor, not a victim. You have to approach cancer as a person who takes an active role in decisions for your care and treatment.”
The ACS reports Reach to Recovery volunteers offer support and information before, during and after a breast cancer diagnosis. There is no charge for the service.
Donna Lafferty is the coordinator at the Health, Hope and Healing Cancer Resource Center (CRC). She said Ms. Thomas is a great volunteer for the CRC and will be a great volunteer for Reach to Recovery. “She has the ideal background and personality to talk with breast cancer patients. We’ve needed a volunteer for this American Cancer Society program, and anyone dealing with breast cancer will be glad to see Linda. She’s a picture of hope and optimism.”
The ACS requires a potential Reach to Recovery volunteer to be in remission from cancer for one year. She must be referred by her doctor and attend an ACS one-day training.
Ms. Thomas said she will see patients in the hospital, but will also go to someone’s house. “There’s a small window after surgery, when there’s time to make a visit in the hospital,” she said. “However, the program is also for those who have just been diagnosed or have completed treatment.”
Ms. Thomas worked as a nurse for Dr. John Ramsay at the Cornerstone Clinic before she retired one year ago. She’s a regular at the Hill Country Memorial Wellness Center and she plays the organ at First Baptist Church in Fredericksburg.
Anyone who would like more information about Reach to Recovery may contact the CRC at 830-990-6648. The facility additionally offers information on cancer prevention, screening, treatment and survivorship issues through its library, three computer research stations and public presentations held in the center’s classroom.