America’s Phone Guys employees regularly volunteer their time, skills and creative insights to help those in need. Whether helping out in simple ways or seeking solutions to global challenges, America’s Phone Guys employees help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and have an enduring impact on the Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR communities where they live and work.
In February 2008, a friend Lois had worked with was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic cancer. The friend was Korean (born & raised) and at times had some difficulty with English communication, though Lois and her friend were always able to communicate easily. Lois asked if she would like her to attend doctors appointments with her to make certain she understood everything & that she was understood as well. The friend was happy to have Lois there as her advocate, and through that process Lois learned a lot about cancer and cancer doctors. The friend passed away in July 2008. During these few months Lois kept feeling she was being prepared for something.
In May 2009, Lois’ husband was diagnosed with stage 4 base of tongue cancer. She went to every doctor’s appointment with him and believed she was a much calmer sense of support for him because she had been through cancer with her friend the year before. Throughout his treatments they would often talk about how they couldn’t imagine a child having to go through cancer. How would they deal with all of the poking and treatments and the sheer horror of it? Once Caleb was through his treatment regimen and on his way back to good health, they talked about Lois volunteering for the CCA. But, she would have to find the time. When running a business with your husband, that’s not easy.
Almost 3 years later, Lois decided there would never be enough time, and she just needed to figure out a way to make it happen. She had to make it a priority. Lois didn’t know if she would make a good Chemo Pal, but figured the folks at the CCA would determine that. If not, she could volunteer in other ways. Lois is a pretty emotional person, and even so, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to be strong and supportive when times were tough. She loves kids though, and has never been blessed with one herself (other than her beautiful step-daughter Kalaya) so she wanted to give it a shot.
She was so happy she did! Lois was “matched” with a three & a half year old boy in December of 2012 and went to his appointments at Doernbecher every week with him. They played cars & legos, and watched videos and had such a good time. He cried every time he had his port accessed or de-accessed until she figured out things to help keep his mind occupied when that was happening. Lois felt like she really made a difference in his life that day! And all the days after that he didn’t even fuss were amazing to her! As a Chemo Pal Mentor, Lois’ goal was to bring JOY to children dealing with cancer or other life-threatening diseases. Mentors believe joy can help heal and Lois did too. Her Pal “graduated” in September 2013 and is doing very well. He even has a full head of hair back now!
She was “matched” with her next Chemo Pal in April 2014, this time at Randall Children’s Hospital. He was better at facing doctors at four years old than she is in her 50’s. This kid was a trooper! According to his mom, he looked forward to the visits when he knew Lois would be there. He always looked around the waiting room for her and ran over when he found her to see what was in her “bag of tricks” for their visit. Their favorite thing to do together was play with rocket balloons. She blew them up and he loved to shoot them and catch them as well as let the air out into her face and make her laugh. He was such a trooper, calling his port his Iron Man button, because it’s toward the middle of his chest. This Pal “graduated” in December 2015 and is also doing very well. Lois still goes to follow up appointments with him and he counts down the days until their next visit each time one gets close.
In May of 2016 she was “matched” with her current Chemo Pal, once again at Randall Children’s Hospital. This time her pal is a 3-year-old boy who calls her Louie and says she is his best friend. According to his parents having her at his appointments has made all the difference for him and he doesn’t start crying anymore when it’s time to go for his appointments, he’s excited to see Louie again. He likes his time with her so much that he is not afraid to let it be known when they are together that she is there for him & only him and everyone else should leave her alone! They love to do puzzles together, play with trucks, build Lego towers and especially make cakes with play dough. His treatments will be ongoing for at least the next two years and Lois is planning to be there with him every step of the way.
Sometimes Lois feels she gets more out of her visits than her pals do. It’s such a great feeling when you know you’ve made a difference. And Lois has a lot of empathy for anyone going through a serious illness. She has even surprised herself with how she can be strong for someone when she needs to. Lois highly recommends volunteering at CCA to anyone who feels like they would be interested. They are especially always looking for men and folks who speak Spanish. You can find out how here. And if you want to know more about Lois’ experience, please call or email her anytime. Oh, and if you are nervous about the what if’s of being a Chemo Pal, you should know that more than 80% of kids with cancer are cured these days; that’s the best news of all!
Here’s a link to a CCA video featuring kids, doctors, nurses & parents that is just so Happy! It’s great anytime you need to be cheered up or inspired to help…
Community Volunteering in Portland OR and Vancouver WA
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