Denisse Cervantes is a pre-med student studying neuroscience in her senior year at the University of Texas in El Paso. She is studying to be a doctor, specifically in the field of pediatrics. She was looking for volunteer roles that would give her the opportunity to make a difference in her community. First, she checked the local hospitals for opportunities that would allow her to volunteer with patients. But then the pandemic happened, and in-person volunteering was suspended. Thankfully, she found The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Patient & Family Outreach Volunteer role online. Inspired by LLS's work, she thought it sounded like an impactful way to connect with and support patients.
In her role, Denisse calls blood cancer patients and their family members and guides them through the wide array of free education and support available at LLS. In El Paso, about 70 percent of the residents speak Spanish. Since Denisse's first language is Spanish, she connects with families to share how LLS is here to help and offers resources available to them in Spanish.
“On my first call, I spoke with a woman who was recently diagnosed. She wasn’t prepared for the diagnosis, and she started crying. Even though I couldn’t be next to her, it made me feel good that I could comfort her and provide emotional support. I was able to calm her and help her over the phone,” says Denisse.
In addition to volunteering, Denisse balances school and a full-time job, which can be a challenge. Denisse says volunteering is meaningful personally and professionally.
“I’m grateful to be able to volunteer one on one with patients. I think part of being a doctor means being involved in your community, outside of the hospital.”
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with LLS, please visit lls.org/volunteer.