LBBC Volunteer Awards: Daughter of Laura Ross Is ‘Extremely Proud of the Woman I Am Privileged to Call My Mother’
Every year, Living Beyond Breast Cancer selects a small group of key volunteers – both individuals and organizations – and recognizes their volunteer efforts with an award. Our 2016 winners received a physical award as a token of our appreciation and will be featured in the Summer 2017 issue of our national newsletter, Insight. We’re also celebrating them here, on LBBC’s blog. We’ve asked a loved one, friend, colleague or employee of each awardee to write about that person or organization as they know them, and about where each awardee’s dedication to volunteerism comes from.
The Lee Plamondon Volunteer Award is named in memory of Lee Plamondon, one of the first LBBC volunteers trained to answer calls on LBBC’s Breast Cancer Helpline. Lee played a vital role in educating the public and other LBBC volunteers about this service, which she believed could make a significant difference in the lives of people affected by breast cancer.
The 2016 Lee Plamondon Volunteer Award goes to two people, including Laura Ross, of Philadelphia, who began volunteering for the helpline in 2013.
“We deeply appreciate Laura’s work as a Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer,” says Lynn Folkman Auspitz, LBBC’s manager of community engagement. “Laura has served on the Helpline since July 2013. She has taken numerous match and live calls, whether she is talking to someone newly diagnosed or someone experiencing a fear of recurrence, she is thoughtful, kind and compassionate. She truly helps LBBC advance our mission of connecting people affected by breast cancer to trusted information and a community of support.”
Below, Laura’s 23-year-old daughter, Gianna, talks about her mother’s passion for helping others:
When I was 18 years old my mom, Laura Ross, was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. It was my first year at college, and my sisters were just turning 10 and 4. It was a traumatic year for everyone, with my mom having multiple surgeries, genetic tests and chemotherapy. Even while going through all the aches, pains and mouth sores, my mother still continued to be a ray of sunshine and source of happiness for us all. Not only did she continue to work through chemotherapy, but she also proudly walked bald in a race that supported breast cancer research, went on business trips and continued to be the best mother I could ever ask for. Even though she slept a lot more and couldn’t eat as much, that never stopped my mom from driving me to campus and taking my sisters to school.
My mom continued to do everything she had ever done, like there wasn’t anything wrong. But she was still planning to add to her already full plate. When treatment ended, my mother took on a role of being someone who would be there to support other women who were also going through breast cancer. With her knowledge and experience, she became an inspiration for not only myself, but for others I had known whose family members were having hard times with cancer as well.
My mother’s cool and collected personality, as well as her understanding and passion for helping others, is something that is awe inspiring. I have never met a woman with as much patience and tenderness for others during hard times in their lives as my mother has.
She has connected with more than just women undergoing surgeries, or being newly-diagnosed, or beginning treatment. She also connects with their friends and family, the ones who worry for them, the ones who are scared and unsure. My mother knows exactly what to say, when to listen and how to make sure that everyone has a voice and can BE heard, not just FEEL heard.
Recently, when I came home saying a co-worker’s parent was just diagnosed, she was ready to help and answer questions. She made sure they, both the diagnosed and the family member(s), knew everything would be alright. You could not find a more understanding and patient person to volunteer on a breast cancer helpline than her, and it makes me extremely proud of the woman I am privileged to call my mother.
She never denies help to those who need it, and this makes her so deserving of this wonderful volunteer award from Living Beyond Breast Cancer for her work on the Breast Cancer Helpline. She is always up to providing advice, solace or just a friendly voice to talk to or a helping hand.