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From Receiving to Giving Back– Orientation Leader Lianne Ingalla

What inspires you to continue volunteering?
“My husband and I received so much from the organization at a time when we needed the emotional boost and practical help, that we definitely believe in giving back. There are so many people still dealing with cancer, and they deserve the same benefits we received.” –Lianne Ingalla

As a cancer survivor, cancer caregiver, and a long time volunteerer, Lianne’s involvement with Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (CSCVVSB) began over 9 years ago, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
Today, through an interview, she shares with us her experience as an Orientation Leader, and what she enjoys most throughout her jouney with CSCVVSB. She shares with us the joy of giving back as a volunteer, as well as lifelong friendships and ties she created over the years.

Q: How did you and your family first become involved in CSCVVSB?
A: When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May, 2008,  CSC (then The Wellness
Community) was my first stop after leaving the doctor’s office to seek education and support. I joined a support group, with which I participated for the next 2 ½ years.  Attended countless educational workshops, inspirations/informative seminars, mind/body programs, “Look Good Feel Better,” social events, Dance 4 Wellness dance classes, Knotty Knitters, creative writing workshops, and more.

In terms of my family, my husband was also diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, so we switched roles as patient/caregiver. Our grandson (then 4 years old) attended Kids Circle for over a year.

Q: What is your role as an Orientation Leader and how long have you been volunteering?
A: As an Orientation Leader, I volunteer every fifth Tuesday evening of the month, as I still work full time. I have been doing this for over 7 years. I lead an orientation welcome session to new comers to CSCVVSB and share both my experience as well as what they can receive here.

Q: Do you do any other volunteering with CSCVVSB?
A: My husband Jesse and I are also original/continuing members of CSC’s Speakers Bureau.  As such, we volunteer on average once or twice a month for speaking engagements, community events like health fairs, and allied events.  We just represented CSC at a UCLA Health symposium in Ventura recently.  The Speakers Bureau group also normally meets one to two times a month to refine our speeches, and plan for upcoming events.

In addition, for several years now, my husband Jesse and I have also served as the facilitators for the annual Dance 4 Wellness dance series classes.  Since we learned how to ballroom dance via the original opportunity for the classes back in 2010, it’s definitely been enjoyable to encourage others through their first experiences with dance, too.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about volunteering? What brings joy to you the most through the CSC VVSB program?
A: It’s a special privilege to share my cancer journey with either newcomers in Orientation, or on speaking events.  Relating the positive and vital support my family and I received during my treatment phase is something I’m always ready to share.
In addition, letting people know of the options for education, support, and hope through CSC programs is so important so that we might help the next person who receives a cancer diagnosis and is thrown into panic, fear, and sadness.

In terms of the purely “fun” times of volunteering, I enjoy decorating CSC’s main room for the annual “Dear Cancer It’s Me” luncheon, plus the annual Holiday Party in December.  Have been doing this for many years now, creating a theme and implementing it to achieve a festive result.

Q: Could you lastly share with us any memorable stories you would like to share with us through your volunteering experience?
A: The Wednesday night Participant/Survivor group, along with the Family Group held at the same time, forged deep bonds in the 2008 to 2010 time frame.  We began holding pot luck dinners to celebrate any birthdays of group members during that month.  That segued into forming amazing friendships with different get-togethers planned at other places, like going to the movies, or hanging out at someone’s home.  Our closest friends, to this day, we met at CSC while going through similar challenges, forging bonds which will likely last a lifetime.  That’s memorable!

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