This month is full of changes around the ACS offices. We will see the departure of two of our excellent staff. No shortage of tears have been shed over the last couple of weeks. However, all of these changes will be good in the long run. Below is a message from Christine Quintana, who’s last day with ACS was on Wednesday. Her enthusiasm, wit and calm in the face of tension will be missed. In Christine’s own words….
I lost my Grandma Jane on December 22, 2001, after a very long battle with ovarian cancer. I had always looked up to her—she was intelligent, strong and independent. She had to be, after losing her husband, my grandfather, to stomach cancer in 1979, the year before I was born. I watched her battle cancer off and on, for many years. She tried everything: surgery, chemotherapy, holistic therapy, radiation, more surgeries and more chemotherapy. Fortunately, she had the financial means to pay for all of this. And she had her family, her support system. In the months before she passed, she grew increasingly weak and was having difficulty walking on her own. She asked me to drive her to the local American Cancer Society office because she heard they offered programs and services for cancer patients. At that time, ACS also offered durable medical equipment so she left the office with a cane, free of charge. I remember thinking two things at that time: 1) “Why didn’t she just buy her own cane?”, and 2) “What?? The ACS offers programs and services for free???” It floored me to “discover” this organization that existed to help cancer patients.
After she passed away, I kept meaning to return the cane back to ACS, but just never got around to doing it until 2 years later. When I did, I saw a sign in the office window that said “Volunteers Needed.” At the time, I was working part-time and attending college part-time. I figured I had a few hours to spare each week so why not? Over the next few years, I volunteered a few times a week for several hours doing computer work and data entry. In 2006, when I was looking to leave my job, the ACS office manager at the time let me know of an open position at ACS – Executive Assistant to the Chief Staff Officers. I interviewed and now…the rest is history.
On November 26, I celebrated 8 years with the American Cancer Society and will now be moving on to another path in my career. As I reflect on my years as a staff partner with the American Cancer Society, I think back to the cane that my grandmother received from ACS. I realize now that it really wasn’t about receiving a cane. She could have easily gone somewhere to buy one. For her, it was knowing that there was an organization—people—who cared about what she was going through, who had a sincere intention to help people during their cancer journey and to give her hope to carry on. And, although I am leaving the American Cancer Society, I will always be a champion for ACS and will continue in this fight.
From me and my family, thank you all for your sacrifice, hard work and dedication to the mission of the American Cancer Society. It truly has been an honor and privilege to work with you all.
Aloha and Mahalo,
Keep your ears on for another bittersweet announcement next week.
Interested in how to approach cancer during the holidays? This article can help