The Power of the S2S Network!
A First-Hand Account
Hi! My name is Sam Baik and I am a Mohawk College graduate from the Child and Youth Worker Program. In January 2018, POGO’s SAVTI launched the Survivor to Survivor (S2S) Network pilot program. The main objectives of S2S include positively impacting the lives of childhood cancer and brain tumour survivors.
The S2S Network recognizes survivors as experts in their own journey and believes that when they come together, other survivors will benefit by sharing the experience of survivorship. The S2S Network emphasizes the importance and the power of survivorship stories being shared by survivors themselves. I have found this to be a crucial component to help in empowering the lives of childhood cancer survivors. The S2S Network is designed to provide survivors with adequate information in order for survivors to support each other with school and work transitions and succeed through different stages of their lives.
This year, workshops have been developed by survivor facilitators on education, employment, self-advocacy, and disclosure. In the beginning process of selecting applicants to be a part of the S2S Network, several candidates were considered. Out of these candidates, I was given the honourable opportunity to partake in the S2S Network and represent the Hamilton region. At the time of a position being offered to me I felt very honoured to be part of a great movement to empower other survivors’ lives.
Facilitating my first set of workshops made me feel a bit overwhelmed and it felt like I would need more time to implement four workshops and book a venue to host my workshops each time. However, as I have now delivered two successful workshops, it has made me think how fast the program is nearing its end.
One of the important take-aways that I wanted to share about working as a workshop facilitator was focusing on the strength and value of our amazing participants by modeling my value so they could apply value in their own life. There was amazing feedback given by one of the audience members on my second workshop where I impacted the participant in this way. This reaction from the participant made me feel awesome as I met the action plan I set out from the beginning of the program. My message of focusing on strength and value had impacted positively on one of the participants.
My objective as a childhood cancer survivor is to continually help people to focus on their strength and value to help them overcome their barriers and challenges in any situation. Working with SAVTI has also positively impacted on my life in terms of advocating for myself and tackling my own barriers and challenges. SAVTI counsellors that I have worked with thus far have been my personal supporters who have contributed to my vocational and educational success. They had a vision for me and helped me to become a better version of myself by having faith in me.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize the importance of the impact that SAVTI is having on childhood cancer survivors at large from 16 years old all the way through young adult years. SAVTI is a crucial element of helping survivors to successfully transition from high school into post-secondary education. Secondly, SAVTI is fundamental in providing vocational support to assist in finding employment pathways for survivors. I would strongly recommend other cancer survivors connect with their AfterCare program to get connected with SAVTI and participate in the S2S Network!