Cancer support group helps with life’s everyday routine
March 22, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. When Val Harju’s 15-year-old son Philip was battling leukemia at Children’s Hospital in Denver she made a friend for life.That friend, Diane Welter, of Your Friends for Life cancer support group, would stop by the Harju home to check in with the family’s other seven kids. She might bring by a gallon of milk, some fruit, or food for dinner when the Harju family’s commitments were stretched between New Castle and Denver. And she would call to check in and make sure Val and her husband, Art, were hanging in there amid a parent’s worst nightmare.That’s what friends like Diane Welter are for – especially during hard times. Even if a family doesn’t realize how much they need support.”You never know how to ask for help,” Val Harju said. “It’s hard to ask for help when you think you can do everything.”As co-founder of Your Friends for Life, Welter has been involved with cancer treatment assistance for four years. She and other volunteers noticed the necessity for a support group for cancer patients and their caregivers and families in the Roaring Fork Valley.”There’s a big need for it,” Welter said. “Myself and some friends came up with the name because that’s what we end up being.”
Your Friends for Life volunteers can serve a range of purposes to help those coping with cancer. Volunteers might mow the lawn, rake leaves, walk a dog, make dinner, run errands or give a patient a ride to a chemotherapy appointment.”Volunteers are very important, obviously,” Welter said. “They can do something as simple as call up and say, ‘I’m running to the store – what do you need?'”Some Your Friends for Life volunteers have personal experience with cancer. They might be in remission, or have known someone who was diagnosed with the disease. They can play an important role in the life of a cancer patient who may be feeling confused, frightened or angry.”These volunteers provide one-on-one support,” Welter said. “I can’t possibly imagine what it would be like to lose hair with chemo, but some volunteers can. The focus is on the cancer patients.”The premise behind Your Friends for Life’s mission is simple, Welter said.”Life still goes on, even while someone’s going through chemo,” she said. “They’re trying to deal with normal day-to-day aspects of life. They still need someone to walk the dog or go to the grocery store.”The little things – errands, conversation, pet care – during life’s difficult moments are where Your Friends for Life volunteers make an impact. And volunteers don’t stop there. Welter said Your Friends for Life can help during and after the effects of cancer.
“The continued support that we had during Phil’s illness, and after his death, was so important,” Val Harju said.In memory of Phil, the Harju family has decided to volunteer with the group. On Wednesday, Val Harju and three of her daughters made gift bags for children with cancer or kids who might have parents with the disease.”There’s a lot of people in the community affected by cancer. We can relate, and maybe know what people are feeling,” Val Harju said. “I know I wouldn’t have asked for help … But you can be so overwhelmed. I think Your Friends for Life – they are an awesome plus to the community.”Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO