CCF Volunteer Program

volunteer-program

August's Volunteer Spotlight - Andrea Parrella

Andrea attends ‘Aware for All’ and presents on a patient panel in Phoenix, AZ.

Andrea has a professional background in adult literacy and community education. As a metastatic, stage IV cholangiocarcinoma patient four years into her journey, she has magnified her professional expertise and currently works feverishly as a patient advocate. Teaching other patients to self-advocate comes naturally to Andrea, with her professional background, and her life experiences as a patient.

Andrea is a Conference Volunteer, Research & Patient Advocate, and CARE Team Lead and has volunteered with CCF for nearly three years. Cancer, COVID-19, and 2020 have thrown a lot of unknowns at Andrea, yet she is eager to share what she has learned. ‘Life is a process,’ she shares and, ‘the only certainty is uncertainty, and making room for all of one’s emotions of fear, anger, hopelessness, hope and joy is a process.’ She certainly helps fellow patients cope with the roller coaster of emotions as she serves.

Andrea used to stress she hadn’t found the best road map for her cancer treatments, and worried about making wrong decisions. Now she teaches others to get all the information possible, get second opinions, challenge clinicians, bring questions to the table, and then follow your gut. One thing Andrea enjoys most about volunteering is creating the personal connections. She boldly shared with one clinician, “Don’t look at me like every other patient. I don’t think it’s a huge risk,’ and felt more vulnerable than ever. Andrea now knows being vulnerable is being strong, and both clinician and patient can benefit from the awareness vulnerability creates. She connected with a pharmaceutical representative at a conference, and soon was interviewed by that company and helped create a video to introduce a newly FDA approved drug she had been using in a clinical trial since 2017, all because of a personal connection.

Andrea wants to share hope with others. This spring Andrea was kicked off of her clinical trial, yet three days later the drug was FDA approved. She knows the science and research are moving ahead. Data keeps growing and changing, and treatment landscapes are changing every month. Andrea consistently and actively works to make the path easier for fellow patients and caregivers. It is certainly a great privilege and honor to recognize Andrea Parrella as Volunteer of the Month!

New Volunteer Opportunities

Cindy Thomas is the Foundation's Volunteer Coordinator.

Cindy received a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University and has enjoyed working with the Foundation since June of 2018 as a part time staff member.

If you have any questions regarding the Foundation's volunteer programs, please contact Cindy at cindy.thomas@cholangiocarcinoma.org.

cindy