Pat Murray: Wellspring member, volunteer, program leader and donor
When Pat Murray was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age 63, the last thing she imagined was that the frightening path she was on would eventually lead her to find joy in the pursuits of volunteering, leading and giving.
“When they found the lump, I honestly thought it was nothing – maybe a cyst or something. The news that is was cancer was a total shock,” she said, adding that at the time her close circle of friends was her main support system.
With a lumpectomy quickly scheduled, Pat learned the good news that her cancer had not spread, and the bad news that doctors were unable to achieve clear margins and she would have to go back in for a resection the following month. At that point her oncologist also recommended chemotherapy and radiation to follow.
Somewhere along the way, Pat found her way to Wellspring and that’s when her community of support blossomed, and here lifeforce took a whole new turn.
“I took a mindfulness program that was really excellent, it helps you to slow down, tune into yourself and your surroundings and feel all the sensations you often overlook. Then I tried yoga, and found it very relaxing. Then I took an art class, and even though I’m not very artistic, I found it soothing, it helped me forget about my problems,” she said. She also took drumming where she found she could “pound away the aggravation and annoyances of cancer and treatment.”
But the Wellspring program that Pat says really impacted her life, was ukulele. “I had never played a stringed instrument before but it didn’t matter! They said, “just come, sing, and if you want, we’ll teach you to play one of our ukuleles”.” Now, five and a half years later, Pat loves to play and she is still playing with this group of Wellspring friends, “It’s just joyous!” she said.
When Pat finished treatment and noticed that Wellspring classes were full to capacity and overflowing, she felt compelled to move into a volunteering role … her way of staying connected to Wellspring while making space for other patients.
She took the training to become a front desk volunteer and later trained to become a Peer Support volunteer as well – both positions giving her a deep sense of meaning and purpose. From there she found herself drawn to become a program leader … and now five-plus years past cancer, along with volunteers, she leads Wellspring’s Book Club program in Edmonton.
“Honestly, I love everything about Wellspring – I don’t know how I would have survived without it, and I never want to imagine a world where it doesn’t exist,” she said.
That’s when Pat took one more step to fortify Wellspring by becoming a monthly donor.
“Programs are free for members but of course it costs money to run them, and with no government funding, Wellspring has to count on people to give. It doesn’t matter how much … give a little bit, give a lot, do a fundraiser! What I can say is, I know firsthand how much this organization means to people – it means everything when you have cancer – and I will do all I can to make sure it’s always going to be here for those who need it!”