A Caring Network
Walking the path together
In 2008, Amway Independent Business Owner Louise Batchelor was involved in a rollover car accident in her SUV. In the trauma center, the doctors discovered cancer. Surgery, radiation, and medications followed – with lots of physical and emotional strain.
Throughout her experience, Louise says her friends and family were a big help. Their presence made her realize not everyone battling cancer was as fortunate to have such a strong support system. “Cancer is ruthless,” says Louise. “It destroys, and it seeks to destroy. No one should have to go through that alone.”
This realization led to her cofounding Companions of Hope, a ministry that provides support to cancer patients and their caregivers. Today, Companions of Hope has between 15 and 25 volunteers serving more than 80 individuals who each have someone by their side to see them through.
The Companions of Hope volunteers provide many services for patients and their families: transportation to doctor’s visits, preparing meals, comforting conversation, and prayer. Louise says these actions are motivated by a single question: “How can I bring joy into this person’s life?”
Sometimes joy comes from the personal touches that Louise knows make a difference. Each new patient receives a welcome bag containing thoughtful items like encouraging reading materials, a travel pillow for car rides to and from treatment centers, and a journal for detailed note-taking. Also included is a glass mug engraved with the organization’s logo: a dove holding an olive branch representing hope and peace.
“Everything in the bag is about hope,” says Louise. “And there’s a psychological component, too. It’s important for people to realize it’s all right to need help, so we give them a lot of resources.”
One well-received project that Companions of Hope leads is a team of volunteers who make encouraging greeting cards. Louise has heard many times how important those cards can be. “We’ll get letters or phone calls where people say, ‘Your card showed up on the day where I was at my lowest,’” she says.
The emotional tie
Louise knows this emotional support is invaluable. “We say this is a hand-holding ministry,” she says. “Sometimes the best thing to do is listen and hold someone’s hand. To say, ‘I care about you. I want you to be well.’”
“It can feel like there’s no one else on the planet,” says Louise. “There’s a fear factor that comes with a cancer diagnosis. My cofounder Donna Thompson and I believe no one should have to travel that road by themselves.”
Many individuals who used Companions of Hope during their own journeys have since returned as volunteers to help others. All the volunteers find amazing meaning in the time they give. “God has blessed me by allowing me to help other people,” says Louise. “And after you’ve helped them, you feel more blessed – because they’ve helped you, too.”