When Loy first came to Wellspring it was to find support to help her through her own cancer journey. What she found at Westerkirk House impressed her. “The warmth and positive energy which resonated throughout the centre was incredible and everyone showed empathy but more importantly were authentic,” says Loy. “My only regret is that I didn’t attend programs sooner as they would have provided the tools I needed to cope more effectively, as I felt isolated and alone.” Loy’s support network consisted primarily of her family doctor and members of her work family who attended every appointment with her. Upon the completion of surgery and treatments, Loy began attending programs at Wellspring where she obtained the tools necessary to take care of herself.
One day at Westerkirk House, Loy noticed a fellow member who appeared distraught, so she reached out and offered comfort and support. It was after this interaction “that the light bulb came on,” says Loy. “I thought to myself, ‘why don’t I volunteer here?’” With her own cancer journey as experience, Loy became a Peer Support Volunteer, and now also helps out with other volunteer roles such as outreach and opening and closing the centre when needed.
In her volunteer capacity, Loy strives to let people know that they need not be alone in their journey. When meeting new members, Loy is open about her own cancer experience in the hope that it will help put them at ease and allow them time to feel comfortable and willing to share. Loy believes strongly in the power of peer support. “Unless you experience cancer yourself, you really can’t truly understand what others are going through,” says Loy. “Peer support is about listening, and allowing people the freedom to express their true emotions. It’s also about learning to let go of the feelings of being misunderstood, alone or having to be strong for others.”
Loy enjoys seeing members return to Wellspring for programming after she has met with them for peer support. “It is not about the thank you’s, but the reward of knowing that you have had a positive impact and influence in providing support to someone. Loy firmly believes in “giving back, and it is her hope to impart “CHOISES” upon others: the ability to Connect, provide Hope, Optimize (on what one has or is given), Inspire others, provide Support, Empower others and to Strengthen relationships.
“Wellspring is more than a community. It is a family, a gift.”