Offering Voice: Possibility encounters change lives – Portland Press Herald – Press Herald

25September 2020

Those people who have experienced cancer know firsthand the havoc it can trigger in life. This is where I discovered myself in 2007, not too long after being identified with phase 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For the next couple of years, my doctors’ consultations and treatments became my primary focus. It suggested that my profession needed to be put on a back burner. I lost my sense of purpose since working was such a vital part of who I was; it was my identity. No longer was I a human resources specialist who assisted workers remain engaged at work. I was now “Kristen the cancer patient” who was at the beckon and call of this unforeseeable illness and its needs.

Fortunately, I realized quickly that I had an option. I could either indulge self-pity and fall into a depression or I could attempt to recreate for myself a new normal. I selected alternative 2. My brand-new job was to take the very best care of myself that I possibly could. I would work out and go for strolls when I felt well. I committed to consuming super healthy. I contemplated a routine basis. And, another among my healthy practices was taking yoga classes at a regional studio. One day at yoga, I had the satisfaction of bumping into my old workout friend, Dr. Peter McGuire, the creator of Oasis Free Clinics. We hadn’t seen each other in numerous years, and we caught up on what had actually been happening considering that our last encounter.

Peter had actually continued his work developing Sanctuary. I shared my dealings with the cancer and being on leave from my job. Peter was quite easy to open to, and I let him understand that I was feeling lost without a purpose beyond my treatments. He asked if I may be interested in offering a special type of assistance at the clinic– staff advancement for the team.

It is really typical that nonprofits have little budget for employee and leader development, and these were the tools of my trade. I offered periodic advancement that focused on assisting improve group characteristics, interacting efficiently, and valuing distinctions. My work and being an outsider helped and motivated personnel advancement. Having the ability to supply team advancement was a win-win. The personnel got time purchased their abilities, and I was able to re-establish some function in my life.

However eventually, the cancer treatments would come on full blast to the point where I only had the endurance to concentrate on my health. I had chemo on a monthly basis, my blood counts would drop, and I was really weak. I was confessed to Brigham-Women’s Healthcare facility on Labor Day 2013. I sustained more chemo treatments and eventually acquired a brand-new lease on life with a stem-cell transplant. When I returned house later on that month, the brilliant fall colors offered me new hope that maybe the cancer was gone at last.

Practically 6 years later on, I had another serendipitous conference at another health club with Peter. We were thrilled to see one another and consented to meet for lunch. When once again, Peter asked if I may be interested in getting included with Sanctuary– this time as a member of the board of directors. I was invited to join a board in 2019. I right away felt at ease with this group. I was entirely behind the Sanctuary objective, and I was delighted to be a part of a not-for-profit that supported offering complimentary health care to our community’s uninsured members.

The board of directors had a retreat to prepare for the organization’s future. As we closed our session, the facilitator asked us each to take a moment to share a reflection on that day. I had no idea what I might say, however as I listened to these clever, dedicated specialists speak about what the day’s work implied for Oasis, I was humbled. I shared that I was struck that we were 20 neighborhood members fortunate to have healthcare coverage, and yet our common objective was to ensure that all members of our neighborhood have gain access to, too. I got a bit choked up as I spoke due to the fact that I could never have imagined what my own journey with a severe health condition would have been like without having health insurance.

Working with Sanctuary keeps me simple. Being a board member allows me to be a part of the community that gives back. There were many times in my cancer journey when I was on the getting end of aid through tough times. That’s precisely what Oasis does and what it stands for. All of us has actually fallen on tough times. Regardless of what those difficult times appear like, there are safeguard throughout our communities. I’m appreciative to be a part of the Oasis safeguard that aims to make certain individuals who require access to healthcare have it.

Throughout my cancer treatments, I remember my physician saying that I had great health coverage. The disparity in between “great” and not-so-good is big in our society. If I play a small part in closing that space by being associated with a not-for-profit here in Brunswick, Maine, it’s my method of returning and saying thank you to those who assisted me through my health difficulties. I understand that I might never ever be able to share my gratitude with everyone who assisted me. The best that I can do is to focus my energies on paying it forward.

On Sept. 12, 2020, Oasis was supposed to celebrate its 25th anniversary of changing lives and strengthening our neighborhood with a gala. Even though it was canceled, I had plenty to commemorate. That date was also the seventh anniversary of receiving my healthy stem cells and being considered cancer-free. This is why I have a very unique connection with Sanctuary Free Clinics and how happy I am to be part of this company.

Offering Voice is a weekly collaboration among 4 regional non-profit service firms to share information and stories about their work in the community. Kristen Kellner is a member of the board of Oasis Free Clinics, a non-profit, no-cost medical care medical practice and dental center, supplying extraordinary, patient-centered care to uninsured members of our neighborhood. For additional information, call 721-9277 or check out

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