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Volunteer Spotlight: Laurie Peterson

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Laurie and her husband Scott at the 2014 Evening of Hope Gala

When Laurie Peterson’s close friend fought (and won!) a battle with Stage IV breast cancer, it convinced her to volunteer for the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara in her friend’s honor. Her friend had participated in the cancer support programs at CscVvsb, and Laurie pledged that once her children were older and she had the time, she would give back to the organization that had helped her friend during the fight of her life. Encouragement from her neighbor Lynn Buchanan, a two-time breast cancer survivor and CscVvsb volunteer, also motivated Laurie to see how she could help.

Laurie started as a front desk volunteer five years ago, and served as a docent in the Holiday Homes Tour. The next year she chaired the Celebration of Life Gala committee, and she has co-chaired the Gala for the past three years.

Co-chairing one of the largest fundraisers for CscVvsb requires time, dedication, organization, and interpersonal skills – all of which Laurie has demonstrated year after year as she works hard to create a memorable and meaningful experience for Gala guests. But Laurie says she has gotten a lot out of the experience of giving back.

Laurie and Scott at a local cycling fundraiser

Laurie and Scott at a local cycling fundraiser

“I love working with the Cancer Support Community because I see that the dollars raised are directly helping our community,” says Laurie. “You just need to walk into the Cancer Support Community to see and feel the funds we help raise at work. Volunteering has also brought me so many new friendships. Working on a committee isn’t just work, it can be really fun!”

Through her volunteer efforts Laurie has seen just how many people in our community have been affected by cancer. “Whenever I mention the Cancer Support Community, it opens the door to hear how cancer impacts all of us,” says Laurie. “That’s why the services offered at CscVvsb are so important. Compassion, education, and support in a caring environment are right here in our community, free of charge.”

Laurie lives in Thousand Oaks with her husband Scott. She runs a sales and marketing consulting business and enjoys skiing, hiking and travel.

By working diligently to raise funds for CscVvsb, Laurie has provided hope to so many cancer survivors and their families. On their behalf, we offer our sincere thanks!

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Caregiver Profile: Jim Martin

JamesMartin3Jim became a caregiver for his mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Adding to the already challenging experience of being a caregiver was the fact that his mother lived on the East Coast and Jim lives in Thousand Oaks. He worked with his mother’s primary care physician to get her into a National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Institute, then worked from afar to coordinate her surgery, and remained with her for two weeks after the surgery. For the next five years, Jim traveled across the country to accompany his mother to her twice-yearly oncologist visits.

When, sadly, his mother’s cancer metastasized into liver, adrenal, and colon cancer, Jim spent the next 11 months ensuring that his mother was as comfortable as possible. He spent most of his time with her and watched her make new friends in her Assisted Living facility. During the last six weeks before his mother’s passing, Jim worked with hospice to ensure his mother was free of pain and had a network of support.

Three years into his journey as a caregiver, Jim joined a Caregiver Support Group at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara. “I joined somewhat reluctantly and was surprised by my own lack of knowledge, comprehension, and tools to cope,” recalls Jim. “The Cancer Support Community has provided a place to share my experiences on this journey, to laugh, to cry, and most importantly, to learn. Coming into this experience, I thought I had the tools to cope with challenges I was facing. I was so wrong, as no one learns these skills unless they have faced the exact same challenge.”

To give back to the organization that helped him, Jim donates his time as Treasurer of the CscVvsb Board of Directors and volunteers for the Holiday Homes Tour and other events. “I believe that giving back to this community is very important as the services that are provided are free to those receiving them,” says Jim.

A consultant in Thousand Oaks, Jim also enjoys cycling throughout the Conejo Valley, cooking good food, creating art, and growing fruits and vegetables.

Jim encourages cancer caregivers to seek support for themselves, not just for their loved ones with cancer. “Caregivers carry a tremendous burden.  Given how taxing this burden is and can become, you need to learn skills to cope with the challenges and be better able to help your loved one.  It is important to have a community of like individuals to truly understand the emotions that you are experiencing.  You will grow, and as you grow, you will be even better equipped to help your loved one.  And the community will help you grow and learn about how to care for your loved one, how to care for yourself, and how to prepare yourself for the challenges you will face.”