Several afternoons a week, you can find ambassadors from Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center positioned behind a table at the RUSH Copley Cancer Care Center, offering patients candies, bracelets, neck pillows and other comfort items that will help them through their cancer treatments. The ambassadors also share information about something else that will help them through cancer treatment: Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center.
“We know it can help them,” says ambassador Estrelita “Bing” Adriatico, a cancer survivor and Waterford Place participant. “We’re passionate about it because we’ve been there. We know the challenges they face.”
The idea for the ambassador program came from the Waterford Place Giving Back Society, a group that brainstorms and carries out activities that will help the cancer community. Their goal is to introduce patients and their caregivers to the services offered at Waterford Place. Many of the items they bring were created by members of the Giving Back Society. They know these items will be helpful to patients.
The ambassadors encourage patients to try the services offered at Waterford Place, like the healing kitchen, yoga and massage. They know these will be helpful as well. The programs Waterford Place provides help people with cancer, guiding them during their treatment and even after. Many of the programs are offered virtually, a good option for those who live too far away or may be too tired to go in person.
Ambassador Fred Vargas says the nurses in the Cancer Care Center know him by name and introduce him to patients. When talking to patients, he shares his cancer experience, which encourages them.
“I’ve had cancer three times and I’m still here,” he tells them. He invites them to stop at Waterford Place to take advantage of an exercise class, a facial or massage, all at no charge to anyone affected by cancer. “I highly encourage them to take advantage of all the programs,” he says. “They can even learn to cook nutritious food.”
While volunteering as an ambassador, he often wears his Marine Corps sweatshirt which encourages other veterans to stop and talk to him. “I meet a lot of interesting people,” he says.
Although she works part-time, Valarie Traynham still finds the time to volunteer as an ambassador a couple of days a week. She wants everyone to have the opportunity to receive the services and support that Waterford Place offers.
“For me, it’s all about giving back,” she says. “I’m on the other side now. I’ve finished my treatments. I tell them this can help you while you are on that journey.”
Not long ago, a patient approached their table, saying she couldn’t sleep after receiving her cancer diagnosis. Estrelita told her there is hope at Waterford Place along with many programs and services to help and an extremely caring, helpful staff.
“We gave her hope so she wasn’t as nervous about her diagnosis,” she recalls.
Estrelita wishes more people would go to Waterford Place. Her own experience with Waterford Place started when a nurse at her church told her about the center. She first got involved with the yoga class and developed some friendships there, then participated in healing kitchen classes and the Giving Back Society.
“We tell each other our fears, our medical situations and get advice from each other. We’re a very close group,” she says.
She enjoys being an ambassador, partly as a thank you to the people at Waterford Place.
“I like giving back,” she says. “In a small way, I’m making a difference.”