As with so many volunteers, John Boswell has been touched personally by cancer. The experience left him with a burning passion to help others who are struggling with the disease.
Boswell lost his wife to cancer in 2004 after her two-year battle with the disease. Although it was a gut-wrenching time for him, he recalls the kindness of volunteers at the cancer hospital.
“They were caring and helpful,” he said. “I’ll never forget one Sunday at 3 a.m. a volunteer was visiting the treatment area, handing out cookies, newspapers, head scarves and popsicles.”
The volunteer approached his wife, patted her hand and began soothing her with conversation. John recalls the moment and says it “renewed his faith in humanity.”
After a 30-year career in banking, John began teaching history and political science full-time at several colleges in the San Antonio area. He traveled between six campuses, fulfilling his dream to teach young people.
“I was teaching as many as six to eight courses each semester,” he says. “Over time, things slowed down a little and I had some free time. That’s when I thought it might be a good time to give back something as a volunteer.”
His first thought was finding some way to help cancer patients. His aspiration led him to the Patient and Family Services division at the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
After an initial interview, an opportunity was identified for a volunteer to assist the Medical Oncology Clinic.
John readily accepted the challenge, bringing his knowledge gained in the Army, business and teaching to the assignment.
John works twice a week at the Cancer Center, making sure the treatment centers have adequate supplies of critical equipment, such as IV tubing, medi-port kits, and syringes.
“Most of my work is done behind-the-scenes; helping the nurses be more efficient,” John explains. “But it gives me great satisfaction knowing it makes a difference in patient treatment.”
John, who has also helped train other volunteers, enjoys feeling like he is “a part of something very important. I have a real sense of accomplishment at the end of each day,” he adds.