The Benefit of a Survivor’s Perspective

Our Program Manager, Jenny Cook, has the joy of working directly with our mentors—our Firefly Guides. One perk of her job is getting to know these incredible women. They share their personal stories with her during their intake interviews. She sees them connect and grow during Guide Trainings. They respond quickly to her calls when they are needed for a match. And every so often, their Firefly Sisters reach out to her with a few thoughts about their Guides.

Earlier this month, Jenny received an email from one of our Firefly Sisters who couldn’t help but “gush” about her Guide, Carol:

Hi, Jenny. I’m not sure if you remember me. Last fall you paired me with Carol after my diagnosis. I just wanted to say a few words about my experience with her. I suppose I could simply have titled this email “Gushes on [my Guide]” and all would be said, but I’m not known for my brevity. Carol has spent a lot of time responding to a myriad of my questions and concerns over these past months (which seemed to me like years). I wanted you to know that you’re very lucky to have her on your team.

I have developed what I consider to be a healthy skepticism about the health care industry in general, but Carol gently nudged me away from wasting my energy on that, instead helping me focus on healing. Her humor and honest caring nature guided me through some very sticky territory along the way…There were many times when my research and discussions with doctors left me scratching my head.

Having the benefit of a survivor’s perspective—a truly personal exchange—enabled me to fill in those blanks. The cancer scare (and treatments) left me with an atypical, sometimes confused mindset. I have no doubt having access to my Firefly Guide helped keep me mentally upright throughout the process. It’s a great organization, Jenny. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to reap the rewards of it.

Carol’s Firefly Sister also shared a powerful poem that she wrote as a tribute to their match:

Just That You Ask
The slightest detour, diversion, digression,
an unexpected glance,
a few bars of an old, familiar song,
that could take me
to a place other than this,

this yewy, chemical fog
tested science, testy faith, iffy odds,
weeding mutations, saving the rest,
dulling me, ridding my taste, arresting my time,

is all I need right now.
Just that you ask is enough.

Wish for me the other side.
Wish that it will be
jazzy, funny,
feather light alive again.

We are deeply grateful to our Guides for the time, energy, and care that they pour into their matches. In some cases, just a single phone call or email makes an important impact. In other matches, like this one, the women forge a long-term connection that inspires hope…and sometimes, beautiful poetry.

A special thank you to Carol and her Firefly Sister for their willingness to share their story.

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