Unspoken compassion: a volunteer's story

Patricia Mowry has been a calming presence for many women who walk nervously through the door of St. Joseph’s Breast Care Program.

Patricia provides them with a gown, helps administer paper work – and more often than not, simply holds their hand.

“Sometimes I don’t say anything,” says Patricia. “Sometimes it’s just a shared look of compassion and understanding.”

Patricia Mowry standing in front of doorway of Breast Care Centre with the word "HOPE" on the door

Patricia is a St. Joseph’s volunteer. While she doesn’t always disclose, the 76-year-old knows all too well what many women are feeling when they arrive for their appointments. As a recent breast cancer survivor – she’s been there. 

A year ago, after an annual mammogram recommended by her doctor, Patricia was told she had a small tumour in her breast.  With a history of early-onset breast cancer in her immediate family, she underwent a lumpectomy at St. Joseph’s followed by several weeks of radiation therapy at the London Regional Cancer Program. Now cancer free, she volunteers weekly to provide support for other women who are on their own breast care journey and pays gratitude for the care she has received. 

“I was fortunate to be at a facility with such state-of the-art technology and an incredible team of professionals,” says Patricia. “The entire team showed a tremendous amount of expertise and a genuine sense of compassion that helped me, and many others, who are going through an incredibly difficult and devastating time. They knew what you were feeling and had a way of making you feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s an incredible team to be a part of.”  

Breast imaging, diagnostic and surgery services

St. Joseph's Breast Care Program offers leading-edge breast imaging, diagnostic and surgery services. The program brings together a breast care team of surgeons, radiologists, medical radiation technologists, advanced practice nurses, spiritual care providers and others in a setting that nurtures and support seamless, innovative care for patients focused on individualized care needs.

The unique, specially-designed Norton and Lucille Wolf Breast Care Centre is the main hub of the program.

Patricia volunteers to let women know they are not alone. During one of her first visits to the Breast Care Program, she recalls meeting a volunteer who was a breast cancer survivor on her own recovery journey.

“She helped me with my gown and I told her that once I was well enough, I was also going to start volunteering,” says Patricia. “A year later, I saw her again when I came back for follow-up. I received the news that I was cancer free. She remembered who I was and gave me the most incredible hug.”

Patricia Mowry wearing a volunteer's lanyard handing a gown to a patient in the Breast Care Program

Now, with three months of volunteering under her belt, Patricia says her volunteer commitment at St. Joseph’s has only just begun.  

“I walk through the door every week and I feel so grateful to be here,” says Patricia of the Breast Care Program. “As women, I truly believe that sometimes it’s the unspoken compassion and the shared experience we can offer one another that greatly contributes to our healing and recovery.”  

This story appeared in the inaugural issue of My St. Joseph's. Read more inspiring stories from the magazine.

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