Featured Volunteers

Raewyn Calvert

A woman stood in front of a photographer baring one side of her chest. Some black lace covered her breast, as a photographer snapped away.

The woman’s chest was displayed clearly in the photos, but a less intimate part of her body was not, as her face remained hidden from view.

Eleven other women would be going through a similar process, for the Black Pearls calendar.

Where there was once a breast on the woman’s chest, there was now a scar. This calendar would go to every MP in New Zealand, to show how cutting elective surgery numbers affected their lives.

Since helping represent woman with breast cancer, Raewyn Calvert now spends most of her time helping cancer-related organisations. As well as her volunteer work, she works for the Cancer Society part time.

While holding training days and making phone calls come with the job description, Calvert has added a new catering service to the list of volunteer jobs performed by the Cancer Society.

Two volunteers attended the meeting Calvert held for the service on April 25. And although the meeting had less numbers than expected, the women excitedly started chattering about whose kitchen would be best to use and how canned asparagus worked better than fresh in club sandwiches. All the while, an organised Calvert kept track of dates with her diary, which she always keeps close to her person.

That is one of the many roles this woman plays. Some of Calvert’s work is done out of sight of the public eye.

“I’m a volunteer who does things like collect on Pink Ribbon Day, and I collect for Daffodil Day and I’ve collected for Hospice, I do that kind of thing. But because of the way my life’s gone, my volunteering has kind of gone down a different pathway,” she says.

One of Calvert’s responsibilities is to fly to Australia, to attend meetings of a consumer advisory panel (she is one of eight on the panel) that assists cancer sufferers to make decisions around the right treatment for them.

Her other volunteer work involves doing talks for The Waikato Breast Cancer Research Trust. Calvert’s history with the Trust goes back to when she had first been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She was recruited to two of their trials, which both have played a part in her success story of living cancer free. The journey, she says, has made her stronger as a person and there’s no doubt it has made her a better volunteer.

“I had to have chemo therapy and that terrified me, because you see all these movies with women vomiting in toilets and all of that and I was terrified about that,” Calvert says. “You lose your hair of course, you’ve got to go through all of that stuff, but it was something that I’m glad I did, because to be honest, I was prepared to fight it with whatever.”

Emelyn Mchardy is a Wintec journalism student.

PHOTO CREDIT: Angus Templeton

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