Hi, my name is Barb Sovereign and I am a peer support volunteer at Wellspring Birmingham Gilgan House.
I have been asked to speak on one of Wellsprings’ key values: compassion. I googled compassion to make sure I really understood its meaning. Compassion means showing sympathy, empathy, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, tenderness, kindness and humanity.
I always felt that I was a compassionate person and had these attributes but my experience through my husband’s cancer journey really opened up my eyes to the true meaning.
And now let me tell you a little bit about my husband….Rick was a golf professional, an entrepreneur and one of the best Dad’s to live. He battled prostate cancer with a vengeance for 4 years. During the first 2 years, our lives were relatively normal; then cancer spread to his bones. Rick broke 2 arms and his femur and spent 7 months of his last year in the hospital. Sadly he passed away at the age of 52 in January, 2014.
I saw compassion everywhere during his battle.
I saw it in my daughters who sat with their dad for hours on end, foregoing time with their friends.
I saw it in the nurses who treated a once able body with dignity and respect.
I saw it in the palliative doctor who spent hours trying to tweak the pain meds to give Rick relief, knowing he wasn’t ready to give up the fight.
I saw it in the radiologist who after seeing Rick go through over 120 treatments wanted to continue to give him hope.
I saw it in the surgeon at Mt Sinai who wanted to operate on both Rick’s arms when others thought surgery was too risky and perhaps pointless.
I saw it in our friends and family who rallied around us and provided unparalleled support.
From this experience I truly learned the meaning of compassion.
Two years after my husband passed away, I realized I wanted to apply this new knowledge and help people in similar situations. I reached out to Wellspring and met with the centre manager who exuded compassion while she listened to my story. Wellspring is committed to ensuring genuine, empathetic, encouraging care and understanding for one another. All the Wellspring staff and volunteers live and breathe this value of compassion every day.
I was lucky enough to be trained as a peer support volunteer. My job is to greet people who walk in the door looking for some extra support. I listen to their stories, share in their experiences, and find the right programs to meet their needs.
I love what I do and I can tell you with sincere honesty that showing compassion to new members is easy. I just need to look around Wellspring and see the staff and volunteers demonstrating it daily and I just need to remember my late husband and all those people who taught me the meaning of “compassion”.