Volunteer Brings Hope Through Experience to Patients Battling Cancer

Author: Leslie Toldo

On any given Friday, you will find Loraine Roberts at Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint. She's not a patient; she is one of eight McLaren auxiliary members who volunteer there on weekdays.

“Most of us are seniors, and we're looking for something to do to give back to the community,"Loraine said.

Loraine's motivation to not only give back but also share comfort and hope with cancer patients is personal.

“I had stage four lung cancer in 2010. When I was getting treatment, the volunteers were so wonderful to me. When I was healthy enough, I signed up to volunteer,” Loraine said.

In the mornings, before her own afternoon treatments, Loraine worked in the chemotherapy area at Karmanos.

“I was glad to be able to give back and, especially at such a time. With a stage 4 diagnosis, I didn't know how long I had,” Loraine said.

The group of auxiliary members that volunteer at Karmanos was larger before the pandemic hit.

“In the chemotherapy area, we serve beverages and make coffee and hot chocolate for patients and visitors. Sometimes, we serve lunch to patients who will be there for a long time. We bring them blankets, too,” Loraine said.

A group of auxiliary members, called the Comfort Sewers, make many of the blankets the Karmanos volunteers give to patients.

“The first time patients come, we give them a blanket to keep and bring to their future appointments,” Loraine said.

Now that she is a 14-year survivor, against all odds, Loraine continues this work.  For her, it has become both a passion and a mission.

“I'm grateful for the time that I am here and able to give back to others and make them comfortable. Sometimes they want to talk. They know I understand what they are going through,” Loraine said.

The McLaren Flint Auxiliary has a variety of volunteering opportunities. To learn more about the various ways they support patients and families or to apply to become a member, click here