Volunteer at Huntsman Cancer Institute honored, ‘I’ve always just wanted to help people’

Apr 17, 2018, 9:16 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2018, 12:50 am

LAYTON, Utah – Volunteers at Huntsman Cancer Institute put in 12,000 hours last year, contributing the equivalent of six additional employees. They bring snacks to patients, visit with them, and restock critical medical supplies. Sandy Crandell of Layton started to volunteer at the cancer hospital for a very important reason.

“I’ve always just wanted to help people,” Crandell said.

Crandell has volunteered most of her life. Her husband is retired from a career in the Air Force. Over the years, she volunteered wherever he served, including his last post at Hill Air Force Base.

“I figured it was a great way to give back to the military, and to meet new people,” she said.

She enjoyed helping younger military wives sort through difficult times.

“If their husband was deployed, or getting ready to deploy, just helping them from the experience that I had,” said the volunteer.

At the cancer hospital she shares a different kind of experience. The volunteer work she does at Huntsman Cancer Institute is personal for Crandell. It’s important to her to put a smile on a patient’s face because she’s been where they are. She spent 69 nights in this unit with a rare form of brain blood cancer.

“They told me I had intravascular lymphoma,” she said.

It hit her pretty hard.

That was March 2015: four years ago.

“It was stroke-like symptoms for about two-and-a-half months,” she said.

Doctors said she was one of the youngest patients ever stricken by that form of cancer. She spent the first couple of weeks in an induced coma. Meantime, doctors told her husband and two daughters her condition was dire.

“The one doctor had the talk with my husband, twice,” she said. “So, I wasn’t supposed to be making it. It was already stage four when they found it.”

But, Crandell battled through chemotherapy treatment, and is cancer free today.

“You’ve just got to keep fighting,” she said.

She shares that perspective with patients as she goes room to room visiting.

“It’s just nice to be able to give them that hope: that I was where they were at,” she said.

Louise Swensen, manager of volunteer services and customer service at Huntsman Cancer Institute agrees. Recovered cancer patients make some of their best volunteers, she said.

“They understand what they are going through, emotionally and mentally, in a way that a lot of us might not understand,” she said.

Forest Holmes, of Pocatello, is getting treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He’s been in the hospital for four weeks, but going home soon.

“Released sometime this week,” he said.

He looks forward to Crandell’s visits.

“They’re giving of themselves,” he said. “But, they’re also giving back some of their experiences to help you gain an understanding of… this is what it was like for me. So, there is a shared bond there.”

As a former cancer patient, Crandell knows there are frightening times in the midst of cancer treatment.

“You don’t know from day today what’s going to happen,” she said.

Which is why she takes time with the patients to give them some of the most valuable treatment.

“To see how they’re doing, to see how far they’ve come,” Crandell said. “Kind of just give them that hope.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

A raft carrying Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, his wife, Ann, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., floats d...
Carter Williams, KSL.com

How will lower Colorado River flows impact Utah business, way of life?

Utah continues to suffer from ongoing drought and depleted water supplies, Gene Shawcroft, chairman of the Colorado River Authority of Utah believes the way residents and businesses water their lawns has to change.
16 hours ago
A single vehicle veered off of the roadway and struck a power pole. (Clearfield PD)...
Brooke Williams

Clearfield power outage due to a vehicle crashing into power pole Wednesday

A car hit a power pole in Clearfield, making the road close and power out for hours.
16 hours ago
The Utah Bionic Leg it uses motors, processors, and advanced artificial intelligence to give ampute...
Tamara Vaifanua

The U unveils world’s most advanced bionic leg

A major announcement from the University of Utah Wednesday afternoon that could help people who have lost a leg walk freely again.
16 hours ago
Intersection where motorcyclist and Jeep crashed....
Brooke Williams

Biker in extremely critical condition after being hit by Jeep in Millcreek

A biker is in extremely critical condition after colliding with a Jeep this morning.
16 hours ago
Salt Lake City police responding to a shooting at the Downtown West apartment complex. (KSL TV)...
Michael Houck

Man charged with murder, woman shot in her SLC apartment

A 20-year-old man is facing felony charges after police found him with his dead girlfriend in late September. 
16 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Surprising drivers with free gas cards in Weber Co. with Casey Scott

Casey Scott was out earlier Wednesday helping ease the pain at the pump with free gas cards -- if anyone will take them.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Volunteer at Huntsman Cancer Institute honored, ‘I’ve always just wanted to help people’