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Your Friends for Life lives up to its name

John Gardner
jgardner@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Barbara Tanaka, right, and Your Friends for Life founder Diane Welter developed a strong friendship through the organization, which helps cancer patients with everyday activities.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” When Diane Welter needed someone to talk to a 23-year-old cancer patient who was losing her hair due to radiation and chemotherapy, she called a friend.

“You can empathize,” Welter said. “But until it happens to you, you don’t understand what they are going through.”

That is why volunteers like Barbara Tanaka, who have survived cancer, are such a huge part of Your Friends for Life.



“To talk to someone who’s walked in their shoes is huge for them,” Welter said.

The girl was devastated by losing her hair. Tanaka had been there. She knew how difficult it was to go through two surgeries, six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, and how devastating it was to lose her hair.



She knew what the girl was going through.

“She was at the point that she wanted to give up,” Tanaka said.

So, she visited with the girl and talked about her experience with hair loss, cancer treatments and doctor appointments.

“I know what it’s like to go in there and your hair is falling out,” Tanaka said.

She knew what others were going through. That is why Tanaka volunteers. It’s why most of the 104 volunteers with Your Friends for Life do it.

Welter, the founder of the organization, said that she’s even got a family of nine who all volunteer. The family lost a child to cancer, and they received help from a volunteer, and they wanted to give back as well.

That’s how it works.

The organization is in its third year and recently, in January, received nonprofit status. They were under the umbrella of 24-Hours of Aspen for the first two years.

Welter said that the organization has helped close to 200 families in the first two years of operation, and she hopes to be able to keep on that track.

“We want to be able to help about 100 families a year,” Welter said.

The organization’s goal is to provide support to cancer patients and their families, according to Welter. She said that they will do pretty much anything that families need, from coming over and helping clean the house, cooking a meal once a week for the family, or going to the grocery store and picking up food for the week. There are volunteers that will mow lawns, fix things around the house or whatever the patient may need.

It’s an organization designed to help with the little things that are overlooked when cancer takes over every day.

“You never know what each family will need,” Welter said. “We customize it to whatever they may need.”

Even if it’s as little as someone to talk to when they are losing their hair.

For Tanaka, she got to give back to the organization that helped her through cancer.

“Just to be there and talk for a while, whatever takes. It’s not specific things they do,” Tanaka said.

A volunteer brought Tanaka a meal, once a week for a year, to give her a warm meal and to give her husband a night off.

It was a big help.

“Going through that I have to say, it’s a life-changing experience,” Tanaka said. “And to have to go through it alone would have been horrible.”

She said that the most important thing for her was just knowing that there were people around that cared. She didn’t even know if she would have enough energy to make a sandwich when she was hungry.

That’s when the volunteers through the organization helped out most often.

As for the name, Your Friends for Life, Tanaka said that it’s absolutely true.

“What a great name,” Tanaka said. “Because we will be friends for life.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com

Cutline: Barbara Tanaka (right) and Your Friends for Life founder Diane Welter developed a strong friendship through the organization, which helps cancer patients with everyday activities.

If interested in volunteering or donating to the organization contact Diane Welter at (970) 309-5293, or by e-mail at yourfriendsforlife@hotmail.com.

For more information about the organization visit http://www.yourfriendsforlife.org.


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