Welcome to Darcy Haggith's Page
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It seems that none of us are untouched by cancer in some way. For me, when I was a young boy, perhaps a little too young to process, I remember my Grandma Wraith, who was always so full of life and spoiled me with her kindness – and then suddenly… gone. More recently, in 2004, we lost my mother-in-law, Nancy. This was a tough loss for all of us as she was the rock of the family. There I was watching helplessly as Nancy struggled to get in the required calories to stay strong and fight this disease.
But how did I come to volunteer at the Cancer Centre? In 2011, I completed a fundraising event ‘Jog 4 Joe’ - a charity run that my buddy, Brad Byrne started for his Dad, Joe after he had passed from cancer. On the day of the big run, we ran from Belle River (Joe's hometown) to Windsor Regional Hospital Cancer Centre - 31 km total. After a ceremony at the Cancer Centre I made my way into the Met campus front lobby and called my wife for a ride home. While I sat in the lobby, I remembered my earlier desires to be a doctor and be a part of the hospital environment. After university, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, and eventually in my own business in health and nutrition, but within this great career and growing business, I always felt there was something more that I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to help others and be more a part of the frontline health sector. So, while I sat in the lobby of the Caner Centre that day, it struck me: ‘Why not volunteer? There is nothing stopping you from helping people in the health sector.’ That day, I did a search on volunteering at Windsor Regional and found Anita's email. I sent an email and started the process.
I hoped to do volunteer work in the Cancer Centre - however with my full-time role in the pharmaceutical industry, I couldn't take any of the available shifts. Instead, I started my volunteer role in the Emergency Room. I did this for a couple of years, helping out the best way that I could to make the patients comfortable as they were dealing with their situations. In 2013, my own business (Infinit Nutrition Canada) was growing rapidly, so I decided to leave my pharmaceutical career to focus on it. One of the many benefits to having my own company was that I had a bit more control of my working hours. I immediately went to Anita and asked if I could get a shift as a volunteer in the Cancer Centre.
I remember my first shift with my trainer, Tony Peters - a great man and the heart of the volunteer team. He showed me the ropes and I knew that I had found my home. Over time, we grew our own special community on the Wednesday morning shift: we affectionately call ourselves the ‘A-Team’. My role (beyond setting the shift up with the morning's snack and coffee carts throughout the center) was directly supporting the chemo treatment area. Our first priority is always being a friendly face and ear to help make each patient's visit as positive as can be. Over the last 7 years in the centre, I have met some incredible people and feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of such a great environment. If you have never been in the Cancer Centre, you might not understand, but the staff, the patients and the volunteers make this one of the most positive environments I have ever had the privilege to be a part of.
I remember when I first started volunteering in the centre - the training and handbook recommended (maybe even mandated) that you do not form relationships with the patients. Just be present and help make each visit as pleasant as can be. For me, I can tell you that it was virtually impossible! It’s just my nature. I did, and continue to create relationships with the patients - I have come to know some incredible people over the years as their journey took them through the centre. I have always told the folks around me that Wednesday mornings are the highlight of my week. I gain way more than I give at the Centre. At the moment, with the current actions to best manage the pandemic, we volunteers are not able to directly support the Centre. Luckily, Bill (a friend from the Wednesday morning Team) and I tend to the Healing Gardens and the vegetable gardens several times a week. This is always great, but it is no substitute for the joy and satisfaction gained from interacting with the patients and staff.
Being a part of the Grow-On campaign, this year will be an opportunity to help in another way. Yes, I’m going to TRY to grow a beard (I’ve not had much success in the past), but I am also an avid cyclist and will be looking to ride 1000 km in the month of November; additionally, I will be looking to raise $1000 to support the Grow-On campaign. Let’s get growing!
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