The Gift of Giving

The winning entry from CURE's 2014 Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing essay contest.


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It's not every day that one receives a cancer diagnosis. It happened to me. The two words that every woman fears: breast cancer.

I didn’t realize that my whole life was about to change. That was when I first met Cindi Cantril. She had the unpleasant task of giving me the news. I knew when we first met that she was someone I could trust. Little did I know that she would become a huge part of my life.

It wasn’t what she said or did. It was the feeling of compassion and sincerity with which she spoke. It was the confidence and reassurance in her voice that she’d walk with me every step of the way.

It’s her dedication to serve, her desire to give unselfishly of herself, her commitment to helping women. And she does it all with a great smile and a positive attitude. Cindi is one of those special people who was blessed with the gift of serving, of giving unconditionally from the heart.

Once I received my diagnosis, she and her team banded together and assisted me every step of the way, scheduling tests and physician referrals, advising me on what to expect and providing information to help me make good, sound decisions on my treatment options. She became a member of our family, supporting my husband and our children.

The big day was upon us: surgery. As I sat with my husband, Jerry, in the waiting room for my presurgical wire implant, I began to feel a lot of anxiety building. Cindi had shared some relaxation exercises with me, and I just couldn’t get myself to settle down, even with Jerry by my side.

The lives she has touched and the impact she’s had on so many women and their families cannot be measured.

Out of the blue, I felt someone sit beside me and take a hold of my hand. I looked up, and there was Cindi, smiling and reassuring me that everything would be all right. She met me in the room where the procedure was about to take place. She made sure I was comfortable and relaxed, and then she left the room. Unbeknownst to me, she went out to the waiting room to be with Jerry, providing support and a shoulder to lean on.

All of this started in November 2010, and she is still a part of our lives today.

In her ongoing quest to serve women, Cindi was the backbone in the development of our peer-to-peer support program called WINGS—Women Inspiring, Nurturing, Giving, Supporting.

The development of WINGS came about when Cindi saw a need for a program where women could help other women with a similar diagnosis. She looked at existing initiatives across the country as models for the one she intended to develop. She took the best practices from several established programs and put together a program that would work for our community. Once the framework was set, she hand selected the first group of volunteers.

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