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Hands-on, meaningful work drives Cancer Centre volunteer

Mike Soloski

Mike Soloski loves nothing more than the look of happiness and relaxation on patients’ faces when he helps them with their needs.

Mike Soloski wanted to do meaningful, hands-on volunteer work in his retirement, and he found his niche at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre.

As he helps patients feel more comfortable and empowered, Soloski draws upon his own experiences with the Cancer Centre, supporting and caring for his wife, Louise Soloski, who sadly passed away in 2014.

“The care she received was amazing – absolutely incredible,” he said. “This was the place where I felt as though, if I need to do some payback, here’s where it’s supposed to be.”

Soloski spends a full day every Tuesday volunteering in the Cancer Centre. In the morning on the chemotherapy bay floor, he gets patients drinks, warm blankets and anything else they need to feel comfortable. If anyone wants to sit and talk, he is more than happy to chat to help them pass the time more quickly.

In the afternoon, Soloski runs an orientation session for patients starting chemotherapy. He teaches about the changes that will occur during treatment and tries to make patients feel more comfortable about it. He also gives them practical tips about necessary details, such as parking. He then takes patients on a tour of the Cancer Centre to make it less scary for them when they return for treatment.

“It is the best work, the most fun and rewarding,” Soloski said. “It is so personal – I love that. I enjoy being here, I enjoy making people laugh, I enjoy hearing their stories about their lives. It feels selfish saying it, but I almost get more from it than the patient does.”

During his 35-year career as a bank branch manager, anytime Soloski got involved in volunteer work, he was put in charge of fundraising or finances. But when he applied at The Ottawa Hospital to become a volunteer, he wanted to work on the front lines with patients.

“I didn’t want to just volunteer, I wanted to be hands-on, and do something really meaningful,” he said. Once he began at the Cancer Centre in 2016, he fit right in and loved it immediately.

During National Volunteer Week especially, The Ottawa Hospital thanks Soloski and all the hundreds of other volunteers for the compassionate, enthusiastic care they provide to patients and their families.



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  • Marie-Claude says:

    Congrats Mike, you are the best and I am sure patients are all thankful for everything you do and what you bring to them. Kuddos. MC and France

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