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Joanna helps guide chemotherapy patients through uncertain times

Joanna Reid, volunteer with the Chemo Teach program

Our volunteers provide an array of important services, from designing new technology to inspiring the next generation of health-care workers. Whatever their role, all of our volunteers are working to enhance the quality of care for patients and their families. In honour of this year’s National Volunteer Week, we’re spotlighting some of our volunteers who have given us the invaluable gift of their time and dedication.

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event marked by uncertainty. Though each patient’s journey is different, The Ottawa Hospital’s Chemo Teach program gives patients beginning chemotherapy an overview of what they can expect from their treatment.

During these virtual information sessions, volunteer Joanna Reid shows educational videos that walk patients through how chemotherapy works and how it is given. “Some people don’t know what treatment looks like or what to expect until they go,” she says, “so we give them some helpful information.”

In addition to showing the videos, Joanna answers any non-medical questions that she can, such as how to find parking and how to navigate around the hospital. “Even just talking with them is re-assuring,” she says. “And it’s also re-assuring for them to know that I’ve been through part of that.”

“I had cancer three years ago,” she explains. “Luckily, I had surgery and 16 rounds of radiation, with no chemo. I understand what they’re going through, and I love giving them the help that we give them.”

Joanna has been volunteering at the hospital since she moved to Ottawa in 2016. With hospital restrictions lifting, she is happy to return to volunteering in person at the Breast Health Centre. For 15 years, she has also volunteered with Look Good Feel Better, a global program that helps women with cancer manage the appearance-related effects of cancer and its treatment.

Feeling inspired?

We are re-building our volunteer services slowly and will open a few opportunities every few months, so please check the website regularly for updates. We look forward to welcoming our community back into the hospital to help improve the patient experience! Visit our volunteer page for more information.

Meet more of our inspiring volunteers


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This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.