We asked some of our wonderful volunteers who give up their time to help Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust about their experiences. Here we speak to Emmeline.
In what way do you volunteer for the charity and what does it entail?
The main role I have as volunteer for Jo's is as the Peterborough support group leader, which I have been running for two years. This involves arranging a venue to hold the meeting in, arranging speakers and topics that women want to discuss and just generally facilitating the group.
I also volunteer as a case study, which means I tell journalists about my personal experience with cervical cancer - this is a great way to raise awareness.
How did you become a volunteer for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust?
In 2009 I was diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer and while I was going through treatment I went on the Jo's website and looked at the forum. I felt incredibly lucky reading all these stories that my cancer was detected so early. I also built a relationship with some of the Jo's staff at the time as I was volunteering to appear in the media as a case study. The charity told me they were looking to start support groups and I decided to start a support group for the Peterborough area.
What was the training like?
The training itself is quite simple. You go to a training weekend held by Jo’s where you are taught how to run a group. After that you go to annual meetings where everyone exchanges experiences and tips. Alongside this there is constant support from the charity's staff, which is great.
Has there been a particularly striking moment or experience during your work as a volunteer? If so what was it?
There are quite a few striking moments, but the one that stands out probably the most was a lady who came to the support group and said if she hadn't come to group she wouldn't talk about what she was going through at all. She explained that she didn't talk to her family or friends about her cancer because she didn't want to burden them with all her problems and make them worry. It was only when she came to the support group that she talked about what was going on with her physically and emotionally. It makes your realise that groups like this are critical for the women attending. It's a safe and confidential place where everyone can talk and share their feelings.
What would you tell someone who is not sure yet if they should volunteer with us?
It's an incredibly rewarding experience, but also challenging. With a support group it is important that you are committed and really see it through. These women rely on you and that there are regular meetings. However, even though it's a long-term commitment it is just so rewarding and you make a real difference to these women's lives.