Katherine Pener, 84, is a breast cancer survivor in Miami Beach who has volunteered for the Reach to Recovery program for 22 years.
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.” —Psalm 19:8
Reach to Recovery is a program that helps women through the trauma of breast cancer and surgery. One of the reasons for its success is that all the women who volunteer have been in the same spot themselves. There is immediate empathy and understanding.
“A patient’s eyes light up when I say it’s been 29 years since I had my operation,” said Katherine.
Reach to Recovery was founded in 1952 by Therese Lasa who is also a breast cancer survivor. Like others before her, she had no one to turn to during her ordeal.
“I read about the program in the New York Post,” said Katherine. “I asked my doctor, ‘Shouldn’t I have one of these visitors?’ The doctor said, ‘What do you need them for?’ That feeling of being alone I will never forget. I felt hopeless.”
When asked about her love for volunteering, Katherine adds, “I guarantee anyone who volunteers will feel better emotionally, physically, and psychologically. I don’t care who you are or what you do. The people I know who volunteer have smiles on their faces. The hours they give are worth more to them than any money they could ever receive.”
Nothing connects us as people more than a common experience. Sharing those with others helps our struggles make sense and our lives have purpose.
LIGHT OF THE WORLD, help me to watch for the opportunities that come my way to share anything that I have been through, to empathize with people in struggles that I have experienced.