Ruby Evans greets patients in breast imaging each Monday. She began her volunteer work when the facility was in Gravely and continued with the move to the N.C. Cancer Hospital. She says, “One patient commented that I had been there a long time. She said ‘I’ve had you before. What day do you come in?’ When I told her Mondays, she said, ‘I’ll always make my appointments on Mondays because I’ve had you twice, and I really like seeing you.’ That made me feel good.”
Cherie Kuzmiak, DO, director of breast imaging feels the same way as the patient. “Ruby is a tremendous asset to the breast imaging program. She puts people at ease during what can be a stressful time. She may be a tiny person, but she has a big heart. And she makes the most amazing brownies.” Dr. Kuzmiak knew of Ruby before she began volunteering.
Ruby and her husband, Phil, were still living in Kansas City at the time when her mammogram showed something unusual. “My son, Jim, had my films sent to Dr. Kuzmiak to review.” Her son, Jim, is Jim Evans, MD, PhD, the Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine and leader of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The mammogram was fine.
The Evans’ decided to move to Chapel Hill to be closer to Jim and his family, and Ruby began volunteering. “I had been a volunteer for the Kansas City Hallmark Kaleidoscope Program, a children’s enrichment program, and enjoyed it, so when I came to Chapel Hill, I wanted to find another volunteer opportunity.
“As a volunteer, I escort patients into the mammography room. I sometimes do paperwork if there’s a lull. There’s usually a steady stream of patients, and I really like working with them. The med techs are all very nice and helpful.
“We try to put people at ease because some people are anxious. We have a number of women getting up in years, as I am, and they may need some assistance. Some come in wheelchairs, some with oxygen and some are on walkers. We try to answer questions when we can, never the medical ones, and when we can’t answer them, we refer the patients to someone who can help them. Sometimes the rooms can be cold, so I bring patients warm blankets.”
Ruby admits she is “pretty tired” when she gets home. “We walk every morning, and coming here gives me additional walking, so you get plenty of exercise.” In her Fearrington community, she is a member of the Women’s Club, a group that raises money for Chatham County charities. She enjoys knitting, needlepoint, embroidery and is an avid reader. The active senior taught second grade and worked in the administrative office for Sears before retiring.
“I’ve always volunteered or worked or been busy. I want to give back. It’s important to me, and I look forward to it. Volunteering widens your horizons about the world around you. I enjoy the interactions with the patients and staff and feeling like you’re a part of something. I’m going to keep volunteering as long as I can.”
Kathy Taylor, N.C. Cancer Hospital breast imaging supervisor, hopes Ruby Evans will continue too. “Ruby is like the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going and going. She makes the most wonderful handmade dishcloths. She’s here for the patients. She has a very compassionate spirit about her and can put anyone at ease. We’re lucky to have her as a volunteer.”
Find out more about how to volunteer for the N.C. Cancer Hospital here.