Health Team

For one survivor, giving back continues post-cancer care

Posted May 31, 2016 8:48 a.m. EDT

— Surviving a life-threatening disease can often lead people to appreciate life more and place a higher value on family and friendships.

Chuck Holly, 70, was once in the same position as patients at the Rex Cancer Center—four years ago he had an inoperable tumor in his chest near his trachea.

It was diagnosed and treated early as Holly was put on an aggressive program of radiation and chemotherapy. Now, cleared of his cancer, Holly wants to help others who are in the same situation.

"I told my doctors—my medical team—that if they could get me from A to B, which was diagnosis to cure, or remission, that I wanted to give back," Holly said.

Giving back turned out to be working as a cancer center volunteer on Tuesday afternoons, doing whatever is needed.

"And it is a pleasure working with patients," Holly said.

Since patients are anchored to the chair for hours, Holly runs errands, fetches drinks and ice cream.

Sometimes, though, he just visits.

He wears a survivor button, which spurs many conversations.

"Him being a survivor and him telling his stories, it's great to hear. It's inspirational, you know?," said Steven King, 54, another cancer patient.

Jessie Weis, a nurse and cancer navigator at the hospital, agrees: Holly's volunteering helps other patients.

"Chuck's just an amazing guy," Weis said. "He's open. He's willing to do whatever, and he just wants to be here."

Though brain radiation did affect his short term memory, he'll never forget the fear and anxiety that followed his diagnosis and the effects on the whole family.

After surviving, his family grew.

"We're an extended family, those of us who've gone through the disease cancer," Holly said.

Holly also remembers how thankful he was that this room was filled with positive thoughts.

"My goals are to have them smiling, talking and feeling good," Holly said.

There are many ways to help patients as they undergo cancer treatment including volunteering your time.

People who want to give back can also help with patients' financial needs.