Breast cancer survivors serve as mentors who can provide information and real life experience to help alleviate some of the fear and anxiety caused by the diagnosis of breast cancer. SOS mentors volunteer their time to give a sympathetic listening ear, share experiences, but above all, bring understanding to the experience of newly diagnosed patients. Mentors provide an invaluable "buddy support system" and support patient over the course of their treatment.
A weekly schedule of breast cancer surgeries, excluding patient names or information, is compiled by the Fortney Breast Center and forwarded to the SOS scheduler who then emails the schedule to the Patient Visitors. These volunteers then reply to the scheduler regarding their availability and which days and times they are able to deliver the SOS gift tote bags.
Gift Bag Packers/Inventory Monitors
The gift tote bags are packed by volunteers on a biweekly basis so that they are available in the Fortney Breast Center library workroom to be picked up by the Patient Visitors. Many of the items that are packed include "comfort gifts," such as lip balm, protective seatbelt pillows, scarves, socks, and lotion, plus reference materials. An inventory list is updated frequently so that the gift items can be reordered on a timely basis.
These volunteer survivors deliver the wonderful SOS gift tote bags to our patients in the hospital on the day of their surgeries. This visit provides a source of hope and comfort at an overwhelming time. The bags include different products and niceties to help our patients cope both physically and emotionally in their post- operative period.
Library Mentors/Office Support
SOS members are encouraged to staff the Fortney Breast Center Library, which is a hub for SOS efforts. Volunteers are available as an on-site resource for newly diagnosed patients and their families. These volunteers are mini-mentors who have been trained to offer real life support and understanding of a patient's journey. Sometimes just chatting with a survivor provides proof that one day at a time does result in an end to the treatment process. Library volunteers offer a welcoming presence to the Library and provide office support to the Fortney Breast Center staff when needed.
New Member Liason
The SOS organization is constantly evolving and seeking new volunteers who are breast cancer survivors having completed active treatment one year ago or longer. This liaison maintains a contact list of all individuals who indicate interest in becoming new SOS volunteers. These names are then forwarded to a hospital staff member who sets up the SOS training sessions and prerequisites. The SOS Membership List is also maintained by this volunteer liaison.