When Karen Shayne finished her last chemotherapy treatment for cancer she was declared “in remission” and a “survivor.” She looked in the mirror and asked herself “What next?” She realized that surviving cancer has more impact on one’s life than simply returning to the way things were. Instead, there are many questions, we feel different and experiences are new again. There is a “new normal.”
Karen dealt with her questions and her “new normal” by participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and began volunteering for the American Cancer Society beginning in 1998. She also formed her first non-profit organization for children, called Billy’s Wish, which created materials for children with cancer in 2001.
But Karen still sensed a need to help other women cancer survivors and envisioned the beginnings of Women Survivors Alliance with an annual convention to be held in Nashville. She went to work organizing the first-ever National Women’s Survivors Convention held in 2013 – bringing together 846 women from 49 states and 5 countries who had survived cancer with 112 cancer organizations from around the world.
The convention program was anything but conventional. It was designed to help women address issues related to their “new normal” – issues such as lingering or undetected side effects caused by chemotherapy, hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and significant self-image issues etc. It also provided an environment to empower and give a voice to the survivors who have been given a second chance in life to advocate for themselves and others.
“I volunteer my time with my non-profit – usually 12-16 hours a day – basically all the time – to manage all the working parts with survivors from around the globe. It’s hard work,” Karen says, “but when you realize you’re changing lives, it becomes the drive that keeps you going – even through the tough times. I volunteer to not just give back, but to honor,” she added.
“I was greatly influenced by my grandmother, Charlotte (Mama) Spivey. She was a remarkable women and my hero. Her hard work and philosophy of giving back were my models,” Karen said. “When I volunteer, somehow it makes me feel like I am honoring her life. My work keeps her alive in my heart.”
Karen is living her life with a new normal and is transforming survivorship from a mood to a movement by empowering, educating and connection women whose lives have been touched by cancer. And she’s hard at work on the next National Women’s Survivors Convention to be held at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Resort in Nashville July 31-August 2, 2014. For more information see www.survivorville.org.
Doing Good is proud to recognize Karen Shayne as Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for February.
Join the Conversation: What cause has a personal meaning for you? What are you doing to honor the heroes in your life? What legacy do you want to leave?
Blog Written by: Karen E. Williams, a volunteer with Doing Good, an organization dedicated to promoting volunteerism. The website is www.DoingGood.tv. Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month is a free program which educates and inspires others to volunteer by sharing stories of local volunteers through media partners.
First her mother died from cancer. Eighteen months later her father died. Jocelyn McCoy was devastated. But with time and the sage advice of a wise woman, Jocelyn found her way out of the devastating grief by volunteering.
“I was looking for a way out of the valley I was in following the deaths of my parents when a smart lady suggested that I think about taking on some of the things my mother was passionate about and that would have made her happy. That was the best advice I ever received,” Jocelyn said. “Mother had instilled in all seven of us children the value of giving and the notion of doing something to make others happy. We were a ‘family of givers’ so it wasn’t hard to get involved. And giving to others helped me heal.”
Jocelyn volunteers in Davidson and Rutherford Counties, Tennessee. Her primary focus has been leading and volunteering in ministries at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, a congregation of more than 20,000 members. She is proud to be a core member of the leadership team at Mt. Zion that was the first faith-based organization to hold a Relay For Life event for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The Congregation is still the largest faith-based Relay For Life organization in the U.S., raising nearly $49,000 in an overnight event held in early June.
Relay For Life events held throughout the country honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost – like Jocelyn’s mother – and help fight back against a disease that has already taken too many. Jocelyn currently serves on the ACS Tennessee Relay For Life State Leadership Council to provide guidance and input for Relay For Life events across Tennessee, and works with ACS state leadership to ensure Relay events are poised for success each year.
Relay For Life involvement isn’t her only volunteer activity at Mt. Zion. Jocelyn is also involved as a lead servant, or mentor, in the Congregation’s “Bridge Ministry” – bridging members from membership to discipleship. “Through the Bridge Ministry program we seek to help each member find her or his passion, purpose and ministry,” Jocelyn says.
When asked about the benefits of all her involvement, Jocelyn humbly says, “I have come to understand that when I’m able to help and bless others, there is always something said or done that blesses me in return. It’s not about my gaining anything. Everyone needs attention, and I am drawn to the shy, to the marginalized and to the underdog. It’s amazing the life lessons I’ve learned just by being serving others,” she says.
Some of the lessons she’s learned include the understanding that all people are different. We must respect each person and accept her or him wherever they are in their lives, she says. She also has come to realize the importance of modeling a positive attitude to those she comes in contact with, in spite of the circumstances she and they are facing.
In addition to her work at Mt. Zion Jocelyn volunteers for community events benefiting her alma mater, Trevecca Nazarene University, where she is employed as an Adult Degree Completion Recruiter. She is also President of the Smyrna Cemetery Organization, dedicated to continuing revitalization efforts of one of the oldest African-American cemeteries in Rutherford County, and has volunteered for the heart walk and other fundraising events.
Doing Good is pleased to recognize Jocelyn McCoy, a resident of Rutherford County, as the Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month for July.
How are you blessed by volunteering? Please join the conversation.
Doing Good is a new organization committed to promoting volunteerism in Metro Nashville by telling the stories of local volunteers through various media, including radio, television, print and the Internet. By educating and inspiring others about volunteerism, Doing Good seeks to increase volunteer involvement.
Nashville’s Volunteer of the Month is a free program produced by Doing Good. Nominations may be submitted to recognize any Nashville area volunteer for the good they do in the community.
Doing Good services are free to non-profit and government agencies.
Volunteer of the Month nominations and donations to Doing Good are accepted at www.DoingGood.tv.