Much like Rick and many other volunteers, Frank Pitman is a cancer survivor. Diagnosed with colorectal cancer, he underwent surgery in 2007. During this challenging period, he realized that there was a lack of support for this type of cancer. “Often, people are not diagnosed early enough, mostly due to a lack of information. I felt compelled to do my part to change this,” recalls Frank.

Eventually, in 2011, Frank joined Hope & Cope as a peer mentor, offering one-on-one phone support to colorectal cancer patients. As he explains, “By listening to patients and sharing my experience, I help reduce the anxiety and the fear of the unknown that often accompany a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Listening and providing information are essential, in my opinion.”

Although the pandemic has dramatically affected volunteering, Frank is surprised at how rapidly people have adapted to the new virtual reality. “Technology has allowed people to participate from near and far,” he observes. “It’s not a barrier at all. My role remains the same and I believe that even when in-person services resume, there will still be a need for virtual meetings.”

Regardless of the method, Frank is enthusiastic about the role he plays as a peer mentor in accompanying patients on their healing journey. Through active listening, encouraging patients, giving them information and sharing the wisdom of his lived experience, Frank improves their ability to cope with colorectal cancer.

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