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From Patient Beneficiary to Volunteer

Michael is a volunteer for a CFC-O-supported charity that works with children with cancer. Michael uses his knowledge of martial arts to teach sick children how to be strong and stay calm in the face of fear and adversity. Working for this charity is very close to Michael’s heart—15 years ago, he was one of the beneficiaries. Recently, Michael wrote about his experience as a beneficiary and volunteer.
“I was ten years old when I enrolled in the very first cancer class [offered by this charity at a local hospital] in the summer of 1999. I joined at a time when I had already completed a full year of chemotherapy and radiation. This also involved having four ribs and a tumor removed from my side. It was very hard for me to return to school while I was dealing with the side effects of my treatments. I knew I needed something to help me.
“And [this charity] did! Being part of [this charity] was a way for me to focus my mind away from the challenges. After being in remission for three years, I required back surgery to place two stainless steel rods on both sides of my spine to straighten my back in place of my missing ribs. Despite the pain, I was able to significantly cut down on the medication by using breathing techniques I had learned [in the cancer classes sponsored by this charity].
“Today, I am an instructor for [the charity]. I lead classes and visit students in pain, teaching them the techniques that I still use in my life. There is no better feeling for me than when I walk into the room of a child in pain and can help them learn how to use their power to create an inner peace. Sharing my story also gives the children hope. I am helping them, but they are also, very much, helping me. I have come full circle.”