Regional Cancer Center ~ Erie, PA

Stories of Volunteering

  • Ann Bach has “been there, done that.”

    Ann Bach has “been there, done that.”

    Ann Bach has “been there, done that.”

    The Regional Cancer Center volunteer uses the popular expression to succinctly summarize her experience with cancer. The Summit Township resident survived breast cancer in the late 1980s, but through the years has lost five members of her family, through which run nine types of cancer. Those experiences, said the 84-year-old retired teacher, have aided her as she provides companionship to RCC patients who come to the center for treatment.

    “I can empathize with them and hopefully do some good,” said Bach, 84, a volunteer since 1993. “For me, it’s very rewarding. You never wish it on anyone, but I think having been through cancer treatment myself, I can really understand it. You have to have ‘been there, done that,’ as they say, to understand. I just love my patients, they’re so precious.”


  • “To be at the center has been such an important part of my life."

    “To be at the center has been such an important part of my life."

    Eighty-five-year-old Teresa Guyton has found comfort at the Regional Cancer Center, where she has been a dedicated volunteer since 1993. She first began volunteering a couple years after retiring when she needed a way to stay active, and she has felt comforted there each time she returned to her duties following short leaves to care for sick family members.

    “I’m not any young kid, but I count my blessings,” the retired office worker said. “To be at the center has been such an important part of my life. It’s something I’ve connected with; I’m just so comfortable there.”

    She tries to extend that comfort to patients. “You see them week after week,” said Guyton, of Millcreek. “I’ve connected with them through the years, and they look for me to sit and visit. I meet so many lovely people, beautiful people.”


  • Orinda Pulice makes sure to tell patients that their hair will grow back.

    Orinda Pulice makes sure to tell patients that their hair will grow back.

    Orinda Pulice makes sure to tell patients at the Regional Cancer Center that their hair will grow back. She knows; she lost hers while undergoing breast cancer treatment in the 1980s and again in 2003. Hearing such reassurance can help.

    “It’s trying when you get that diagnosis,” the 77-year-old Millcreek resident said.

    A retired personal caregiver, Pulice was a member of the RCC’s very first training class for volunteers in 1990, learning about her duties and the strict importance of patient confidentiality. Now, so many years later, she continues volunteering at the RCC, where both her husband and her daughter have been patients as well. She enjoys visiting with patients, sharing her story in the hopes that it will help them to feel better.

    “I always tell them, too, how fortunate we are to have this facility in Erie,” Pulice said.


  • “I just felt that I wanted to give back. I enjoy it.”

    “I just felt that I wanted to give back. I enjoy it.”

    In 1987, the volunteer program was still three years away at the newly opened Regional Cancer Center, where Ginger Loader, now 77, was receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. So there was no one to offer her a snack, some coffee, a piece of fruit, or a sympathetic ear. Today, she is one of several volunteers who do just that for patients.

    “It was so long ago; today it’s a whole different place,” said Loader, an Erie homemaker. “Back then, I had to pick up my medication (for chemotherapy) at the hospital, because there was no pharmacy yet (at the RCC), so I would pick it up and carry it with me to treatments.”

    After six months of treatment, Loader’s cancer was cured, and several years later in 2000, (“when I was done taking care of my grandchildren,” she said), she became an RCC volunteer. “I just felt that I wanted to give back,” she said. “I enjoy it.”


  • “When you give of yourself, your kids see it.”

    “When you give of yourself, your kids see it.”

    Millcreek homemaker Wilma “Willie” Rahner still had kids at home in 1991, but she signed on to a new volunteer gig anyway after learning of the need for volunteers at the Regional Cancer Center.

    “When you give of yourself, your kids see it,” said Rahner, 77, an active community volunteer. “So now we have kids who do a lot for other people, very quietly. But it doesn’t happen if they don’t see it.”

    Known as “the cookie lady” to the RCC staff because of the home-baked goodies she brings them, Rahner sometimes shares those cookies with patients or family members. “Sometimes on my way in, if I see someone who looks like they could use a cookie, I give them one,” she said.

    While she shares her time, her pleasantries, and her cookies at the RCC, what Rahner takes from it, she said, “is an appreciation for your own good health, because you just never know.”


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