A Lake Cowichan resident is still finding it hard to believe she was selected by the Canadian Cancer Society for one of its national impact awards given out earlier this year.
On May 26, Margaret Davis received the 2016 Impact Award for Leadership in Community Engagement from the National Council of the Canadian Cancer Society for her years of volunteer service with the organization’s Duncan chapter.
“I was quite shocked actually,” said Davis. “I was really surprised because I thought, ‘This is a national award and certainly I’m just part of a team at our office [where] everyone works hard and everybody contributes.’”
The award was presented to Davis during the local branch’s Cowichan Valley Volunteer Appreciation gathering, in which the society gives its own local awards for volunteers and community partners.
Davis has been volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society since she retired 10 years ago. She started out as a “cancer connection volunteer” — a person who has cancer and offers telephone peer support to other people with cancer. Davis has a rare, slow-growing cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma.
“When it was first discovered, even my doctors couldn’t really put me in touch with anyone else who had it… When I went through my first treatments, there was really no one I could talk to,” she said.
“Then several years later I noticed an article in the newspaper and they were talking about the cancer connection program, and they were particularly looking for people who had rare and unusual cancers to be peer telephone support people,” Davis said.
The volunteer position turned out to be perfect for Davis who finally had other people to talk to with the same cancer as hers.
After six years, she transitioned to helping with work at the society’s office in Duncan. Today she is in charge of volunteer engagement and recruitment, and she jointly runs the office with four other people on the society’s management committee.
Davis said the Canadian Cancer Society is an important organization because it’s the only national organization that provides research money for every type of cancer, as opposed to other national cancer organizations that focus on specific forms of cancer, like breast cancer or prostate cancer.
“I also really like that we’re really involved in prevention and education and health services and advocacy,” she said. “So some volunteer jobs you spend your whole time just raising money for things but we do more than that.”
The Canadian Cancer Society in Duncan offers support services for people living with cancer. For example, people can borrow a wig from the society if their cancer treatments will mean hair loss. Or if they are undergoing treatments not covered by MSP, the society can sometimes help out financially.
For anyone interested in getting involved with the society — particularly those who are also country music fans — Davis said she is currently looking for volunteers to work shifts at Sunfest selling 50/50 tickets.
In a press release, Tracey Clayton, annual giving coordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society, said, “The Society office in the Cowichan Valley is a shining example of an actively engaged community office in large part due to the leadership provided by Margaret Davis. Margaret leads by example and is the epitome of what we hope a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer will be.”