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April 24, 2017
April 23 to 29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week and the recognition is well deserved for the nearly 900 individuals who donate their time to help others at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). Each year, LHSC’s Volunteer Services holds an appreciation event where all volunteers are thanked for their work and those who have milestones over five years are recognized with a Long Service Award.
This year’s Long Service Awards theme will be “Memories of the Past” and there will be 80 volunteers receiving long service award pins, starting from 5 years up to 30 years of service. For some, volunteering provides an opportunity to continue to help others and stay connected even after retirement from LHSC.
Maureen Constable has spent 43 years at LHSC, 28 years in purchasing as an employee and 15 as a volunteer. As a new patient volunteer, Constable is one of the first people a new patient might see at London Regional Cancer Program. She combines her knowledge of the hospital with her personal experience as a patient to help new patients navigate their healthcare journey and put their minds at ease.
Constable was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978. She was 33-years-old at the time, and all of her family except for her twin sister was living in England. She was diagnosed in the early stages of breast cancer again in 1991 and was working in the hospital when she underwent surgery and fondly remembers a number of staff members that were also cancer survivors visiting her while she was recovering.
When Constable’s twin was also diagnosed with cancer more than ten years later, Constable started volunteering for the cancer program. Constable’s twin had surgery in 2005 and has been cancer-free since.
Constable, who continues to wear a survivor badge on her lanyard, says she gets a feel for whether or not someone wants to talk. “If they want to, I’m always here to spend time with them. Many people are frightened and as a survivor myself I can offer them hope and reassurance.”
An avid knitter, Constable has kindly knitted purple baby hats to help LHSC raise awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Period of PURPLE Crying, even knitting the hats while on vacation. “Knitting keeps my hands busy and keeps me out of mischief,” she says. Additionally, she was honoured by the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards for 50 years of service to the Girl Guides of Canada.
“Volunteering and helping others is important work, and I plan to continue as long as I can,” explains Constable.