Thursday, June 20, 2024

Thursday 13: A Chemo and Senior Angels Update

It looks like it has been over a year since I did any kind of Chemo and Senior Angels update, so it’s time for one.  The Thursday 13 format seems to work well.

If you’re not familiar with Chemo Angels and Senior Angels, you can read my long post about them here.  (Other updates are here and here if you’re interested.)  The short version is that they’re programs that match patients undergoing therapy and seniors (both known as buddies) with volunteers (known as card angels or chemo angels) who send them a card or letter at least once a week.  It’s strictly mail-based, and volunteers are matched with buddies based on interests.  I started volunteering with both programs as a card angel in 2019, and I absolutely love doing it.

As usual, with this kind of post, the photos are just a random assortment.

Now, on to the update.

1.     Unfortunately, this update includes sad news, so I’ll get that out of the way first.  The buddy I was matched with in April of last year (I called her Jane for blogging purposes) died in early December.  I certainly didn’t expect not to care, but I didn’t think the death of someone I hadn’t met would be so sad to me.  I cried when I got the email.  Cancer is just so unfair.  Jane was relatively young and seemed like she was full of life based on her hobbies and interests.  She also had three children, as well as other family. 

2.     I also learned that another former buddy passed away last year.  I started off as her substitute in the summer of 2021, and then became her regular card angel.  Her time with the program ended, but we stayed in touch with the occasional email and exchanged Christmas cards.  She passed away in the fall of last year.  Again, she was only in her 30s and seemed so full of life.  Cancer really sucks. 

3.    I knew when I first volunteered that this was likely to happen at some point.  I also know that I don’t want to stop volunteering as a card angel, so I immediately got back on the list for another buddy. 

4.    I was also able to do some substituting (volunteers can request that another volunteer fill in for them if they’re unable to keep up with writing every week for a short period of time) during the holidays. 

5.    I currently have four buddies instead of the usual three. 

6.    I was matched with another chemo buddy in February.  We’ll call her Deidre for blogging purposes.  She didn’t provide a ton of information on her application and doesn’t share much in her monthly check-ins, but overall, it seems like her treatments are going well.

7.    I’m still writing to the same senior buddy that I’ve had since November of 2019.  I’ll call her Agnes for blogging purposes.  She’s in her 90s and in assisted living but seems to be very active.  Her daughter manages her checkins and is great about sharing information about things she especially enjoys, so it has become easier and easier to write to her.  In December, she sent me a sweet card thanking me for writing to her and being her friend.  It came a few days after I learned that Jane had passed away, so the timing was perfect for me.  And it really does feel like she’s my friend, even though I’ve never met her in person.  Sometimes, I’ll see something and think, “Oh, I need to tell Agnes about this.” 

8.    Some volunteers prefer not to take on a senior buddy because the commitment is so much longer, but that’s actually one of the things I like about having a senior buddy.  It feels like you do establish a friendship, and I enjoy that.

9.    I was assigned to another teenage buddy for about six months last year.  She was 14 and turned 15 during her treatment.  Fortunately, she finished her treatment during the fall and is now cancer-free.  Those are very happy emails to get! 

10. Earlier this year, there was a shortage of volunteers for senior buddies, so I got on the list for one more.  I was matched in March to a senior lady I’ll call Callie for blogging purposes.  She enjoys reading and growing flowers, so I have plenty of things to write to her about.

11. I also got back on the list for another teenage buddy when there was a shortage of volunteers, particularly for male buddies.  I was recently assigned to a 15-year-old boy I’ll call Sam for blogging purposes.  Cats are his favorite animal, so I have plenty of pictures and cat stories to share with him.

12. Chemo Angels and Senior Angels are currently experiencing a shortage of volunteers for both programs, so if you’ve been thinking about giving it a try, this is a great time to volunteer.

13.  I’m still so glad that Bijoux and Betty shared their experiences with Chemo Angels on their blogs.  I really enjoy volunteering with them.  I truly believe that we all can and should, do something for others.  Sometimes, it’s hard to find the right volunteer fit, though, especially with a busy schedule, but Chemo/Senior Angels is a great fit for me.  


  1. Thanks for the updates. It seems like a worthwhile thing to do for people who surely need it.

  2. I have never heard of this program. It sounds like a really nice thing to do.

  3. What a good program and you are doing wonderful work that helps more than you know. However, I don't think I could handle being a buddy knowing that many of the outcomes for my buddies was death. I do try to write letters to people I know who would enjoy them - especially older people. And sometimes will send enough cards so everyone can get one in the nursing home my mother was in.

  4. Wow, Danielle! Even though I no longer participate, I’m so happy that I shared the program because you have been so faithful!! And speaking of Betty, I’m sad that she disappeared a few years ago. I tried emailing her, but she never responded.

  5. What a loving thing to do. I really admire you for this. I currently have close friends with cancer and I think my emotions are too raw to do this. I certainly will keep it in mind for another time of my life.

  6. what a wonderful thing for you to do. i am going to think about participating as well. i take care of my mom who is 90 and my mother-in-law who is 87, i feel like i have my hands full, so it is a big maybe. i am a nurse, not working because i have MS, but i miss those interactions!!

  7. It sounds like a wonderful program, Danielle. I can imagine one would be affected by the death of a buddy. It is a wonderful way to give to others though. Well done, my friend.

  8. I was not aware of the Chemo/Senior angels program. The Chemo angels has to be wrenching for the Angel (and you've taken on more than once) but needed - I supported my late best friend from childhood during her cancer journey with regular greeting cards so I've experienced a fraction of the commitment this takes.

  9. I think this is a wonderful service, Danielle. Though I knew you did this, I had forgotten. I'm sorry about the losses. Yes, you know it's always a possibility but still, hard. Good work, my friend.

  10. What great programs! Sad, certainly, but wonderful of you to do it - and do it so frequently.

  11. You are really making a difference, doing something important. I admire that. It can't be easy to risk your heart like that. Brava!

  12. Thank you for all you do for so many people, Danielle. This is a really wonderful program, and it only works because of people like you. I'm so sorry for the losses you've had. That must be so hard. XO


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