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The Power of Volunteering: A Personal Story

Cancer Care
Author name: Lee Health


Volunteering photo

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give, Winston Churchill said. The great British statesman knew the satisfaction of knowing that what you do truly makes a difference. 

So, whatever your talents, interests or skills, a volunteer position is available for you at Lee Health. Just ask Dorothy Taylor, a volunteer with Lee Health Breast Health Center at Lee Health Coconut Point. 

Thirty-three years ago, Dorothy was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50. At the time, Dorothy, a native of Michigan, taught during the fall and winter seasons in the sociology department at the University of Miami. During summer months when she didn’t teach, Dorothy would return home to Michigan, where her husband still maintained his medical practice. They saw each other four days a month during the winter, and Dorothy spent the summers in Michigan with her husband. They did this for 11 years until he retired and moved to Florida. 

Dorothy kept teaching while undergoing breast cancer treatment. To treat her cancer, Dorothy had surgery in Michigan, followed by radiation treatments in Florida.  Only the chair of her department knew of her diagnosis. Dorothy chose to keep her diagnosis private as she wanted to continue to live a normal lifestyle. 

One day, the chair of Dorothy’s department asked if she would talk with the department secretary, who had just been diagnosed with cancer. Dorothy eagerly agreed to speak with the woman. 

And that’s how “Sistah Talk,” Dorothy’s support group started. The group supports Black women who have been diagnosed with cancer. During these meetings, she spoke on topics such as diet and sharing their experience, strength, and hope with each other. Dorothy continued to lead this support group until she relocated to Southwest Florida.

Upon moving to the west coast of Florida and retiring, Dorothy spent most of her time volunteering with the Susan G Komen Organization. Dorothy not only volunteered but was also a part of the executive board. While the Susan G Komen organization still exists, the Fort Myers area location does not. 

Dorothy also attended the Ad Hoc Committee meetings that developed the Lee Health Healthy Life Center. She remains involved as a volunteer because she wants to keep up with the medical literature on breast cancer and stay involved. Most importantly, she thinks her story will inspire patients. 

As a volunteer, Dorothy goes above and beyond by informing the husband of how the wife’s biopsy or mammogram is going. Dorothy says she “jokes with the husbands and wives that come through, so they know not to be anxious about their visit.”

Dorothy especially enjoys sharing her story and being a 33-year survivor with younger patients who come in anxious about their appointment to give them hope about their situation. 

Dorothy advises anyone diagnosed with cancer to join a support group. She says, “If you do not know one, start one.” 

We are grateful to have amazing volunteers like Dorothy with their encouraging stories.

Thinking about volunteering with Lee Health? Do it!

Lee Health offers several different types of volunteer opportunities at our locations. Some volunteer service areas may include interaction with our patient population. Other areas don’t include patient contact, such as trolley service, gift shop, uniform store, thrift shop, reception and clerical positions.

Besides the personal rewards you’ll derive from helping others, you’ll also receive other benefits in appreciation for all you do, such as: 

  • Meal Tickets
  • Discount Tickets
  • Annual Recognition
  • Educational Seminars
  • Wellness Center Discounts
  • Flu Shots (when available)
  • Volunteer Referral Bonus Hours
  • Inpatient/Outpatient Billing Discount (excludes bills covered by Medicare)

You can apply here to start volunteering right away. 

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