I Care Program

All too often, cancer leaves people feeling hopeless, confused and alone. Even the best treatments rob the body of strength — leaving patients and families ill-equipped to repair their broken spirits.

Now there’s somewhere to turn, thanks to volunteers at Simi Valley Hospital who have faced cancer head-on and are ready to offer support and comfort to others. “I Care” is the name of this special program, inspired by the efforts of brain-tumor survivor and volunteer Michael O’Connor.

“At the time I had cancer, I had nobody to talk to,” he says. “People you considered your best friends will stay away until it’s over. They don’t know what to say.”

“I Care” exists as a way to prevent that type of isolation. Some patients who have felt uncomfortable talking to anyone else have learned to open up, sharing their deepest fears and concerns with the volunteers.

“It’s so great to be able to touch someone and help them get through,” says 18-year-old “I Care” volunteer Jessica Szegedi, who had a cancerous thyroid removed when she was four. “A lot of people think this is the end of life…but they can still be a normal human being. They have to be warriors.”

Volunteer Dee Talley, who fought her own battle with breast cancer, agrees. “Even if you have terminal cancer, you have so much to live for, until the very end,” she says. “You see things so much differently. Every single second counts.”

You Can Help

If you are a cancer survivor or a family member of a current or former cancer patient, you can have a great positive influence in the lives of Simi Valley Hospital’s cancer patients and their families by volunteering in the I Care Program.

You’ll receive training in grief counseling and other skills to prepare you to go on brief visits to newly diagnosed cancer patients, where you’ll offer words of encouragement and hope and give them a packet of valuable information and a comfort pillow.

For more information, including the date of the next training session, call Dick or Sue Beyers at 805-583-1274. Cancer patients and their families may also call to receive the cancer resource packet.