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Student volunteers give precious time back to cancer patient

Students from De Montfort University Leicester DMU) are giving a young mother her precious time back by volunteering to help her at home.

Laverne Affoh is only 34 but has been diagnosed with a slow-growing carcinoid cancer which affects her scalp, lungs and liver. She has already had one lung removed and as a result of her treatment finds herself tired most of the time.

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This makes it tough to keep on top of her housework and look after her three-year-old daughter, Alessa.

But, thanks to volunteers from DMU, Laverne now has the time she needs to do the things which matter.

Once a week, Danielle Watson, a 19-year-old Criminology and Criminal Justice student and Karishma Chandrahas, a 21-year-old Pharmacy student, make the trip to Laverne’s Hamilton home and clean, hoover and help entertain Alessa.

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The volunteering scheme is run by DMU, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, through DMU Square Mile, the university’s community engagement team, which runs a network of public good schemes throughout the local area, putting student and academic skills to a positive and practical use.

Laverne said the difference the girls made was huge – something she was initially surprised to find.

She said: “At first, when I found out I could have volunteers help me at home, I wasn’t sure at all. I felt I wanted to be in control at home.

“But my husband was trying to carry out all the household chores on top of his job as a manager. He was trying to be a superman and take care of everything for us. But it left us with no time for each other, he was just too tired in the evening.

“So we decided to accept the offer and have the De Montfort volunteers come round.”

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She said that Danielle and Karishma kept her home clean and tidy, giving her and her husband time to spend together and with their daughter.

“It’s not too dramatic to say they’ve helped save our marriage, in that respect,” said Laverne. “Because dealing with something like cancer is really tough and your instinct is to take it all on yourself and that can be just too much.”

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Karishma said she had experienced Macmillan’s help when her own grandfather was diagnosed with cancer.

She said: “I saw how much of a difference their help made and I wanted to give something back. It feels, when you do this, that you are making a new friend.”

Danielle said she found the voluntary work gave her experience she could not have had on her course.

She said: “It is quite different to what I learn on my course. But it gives you experience which will be useful throughout your life and it feels really satisfying, too.” 

Posted on Tuesday 23rd August 2016

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