DENVER - Comfortable is a way we don't often feel in a hospital.
"I think I've always been sort of a caregiver," said Roy Sande.
At the Denver Veteran's Administration hospital's infusion clinic, veterans arrive, usually, for a day of chemotherapy.
It's a treatment volunteer Roy Sande knows can be painful. He's a cancer survivor himself.
"I had melanoma, which is one of the stronger ones, and they took my ear but that's okay. I can still hear," said Sande.
Sande grew up in a family of military service: four of his brothers are veterans.
Even though he wanted to, he could never join for health reasons. So, Sande began helping out at the hospital during Desert Storm in the 1990s.
Sande said, "This is my way of contributing."
Sande makes sure every veteran needing treatment feels right at home.
He smiles as be brings them a pillow, a warm blanket, or a glass of orange juice. There's also the Girl Scout cookies he hands out, and most of all, there's companionship.
His volunteer time spans two decades and tops 20,000 hours.
"It's a selfish thing. I really like bonding with the patients. I know they're going through traumatic things, especially in this area, and if we can help make their life better that's really the key to it all.
That's what I would want if I were experiencing this again," said Sande.
So dedicated to his volunteer job, Sande even went back to school during his retirement to become a CNA and take specialized hospice training.
Registered Nurse Corey Hovestal has worked with Sande for the past two years. She says he stands out as the epitome of a VA Hospital volunteer.
"We have patients that come in entirely alone. They get themselves on the bus, they get here, they come and they go, there's no one checking up on them. Roy knows just how to sit down with that patient and hear their story. He connects with them like no one else can. And that is life changing," Hovestal said.
Now 85 years old, Sande has become a familiar face for both nurses and ailing veterans in the infusion clinic and beyond.
"There's a saying about 'you can light another candle and it doesn't diminish the light in your candle. It just keeps going,'" Sande said. "I will do it as long as I can keep going."
For more information on becoming a VA volunteer, visit: http://www.denver.va.gov/giving/index.asp.
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