“I was born at St. Francis on Aug. 9, 1944, and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this hospital,” Linda Robertson says.
For the 77-year-old, giving back was something her family wanted her to learn early, so she became a candy striper at the hospital at age 12. While she recalls the sisters being a little intimidating as a little girl walking the hospital halls, she looks back on the experience fondly.
“I loved books, and I loved reading. So, I’d read to the patients,” Linda shares. “I’d also bring their mail to them or really fetch just about anything they needed.”
As Linda got older, she continued her volunteer work with other community groups while also raising three children as a stay-at-home mom. It wasn’t until she was in her 60s that she was drawn back to the hospital she loved so much, but under much darker circumstances.
Linda was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It took about six years of treatments and a hard-fought battle with the disease before she was able to declare herself cancer-free.
“I am a walking miracle,” she shares. “I’m very thankful for where I am after what I’ve been through, and giving back is what I do. So, I decided now that I was well, I wanted to give back to the people that gave me my life back.”
Linda resumed her volunteering with our ministry at the Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer Center, talking to patients and sharing her story of survival as a form of encouragement for those facing the same challenge.
“It is always wonderful when one of our patients who has traveled the journey of cancer and its treatment goes on to become a volunteer in our center,” Robert Siegel, MD, medical director of the cancer center and one of the providers who assisted in Linda’s care, shares.
He continues, “I’m sure it does them good to ‘pay it forward,’ but in addition, these patients serve as a source of inspiration and hope for individuals now going through the same process.”
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she was forced to stay home due to her compromised immune system, Linda found ways to continue her work supporting others.
“It was really hard because doctors didn’t want me to go out and be with people, but that was how I wanted to give back – through people,” Linda explains. “So, during that time I’d talk on the phone to cancer patients. I knew them, their situation and I’d tell them, ‘Look, I did it. You can keep fighting. Let’s do this together.’ I’d also write cheerful letters to people who I knew were having a hard time.”
As community spread of COVID-19 improves, Linda is ready to take on a new volunteer opportunity – supporting the weekly Bon Secours well walkers program at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
“It took two years of laying low, but now I’ve got my well walkers shirt on and I’m ready to show up and cheer everyone on! I’m so excited to be with people that are well, positive and who want to stay that way like I do.”
You’ll be able to find Linda cheering walkers every other Thursday at the arena. The program allows anyone to walk laps around the quarter-mile concourse in a temperature-controlled environment. Check out the full schedule of walk dates.
For anyone wanting to learn more about volunteer opportunities at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville, S.C., reach out to our volunteer coordinator Susie Jeter via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 864-255-1234.
Also, learn more about all of our volunteer opportunities at Bon Secours.