Award Winner Strachan Bongard imageWhen Strachan Bongard began volunteering at PMH 12 years ago, he didn't know he was launching a new "career." And now, aged 79, he can't imagine his life without it.

Strachan (pronounced "Strawn") is a mainstay in the 4th floor gastrointestinal (GI) cancer clinic, one of the busiest at PMH. Sit with him there, and get ready for constant friendly interruptions from patients, family and staff alike who all stop to say "Hi". Not that he actually sits down much. When he isn't helping patients at the Tuesday clinic, you can find him in the work room serving the healthy sandwich lunches he makes every week to nourish 20 clinical staff during their hectic day.

Over the years, Strachan has become more and more involved in patient education and fundraising activities. He created the "GI Newsletter" to help foster community among patients. He organized and became the coordinator for the 5K walk in support of GI cancer that is now part of the Toronto Marathon. Last year, the GI walk raised $50,000. Strachan also serves on the Patient Education Committee and sits as a volunteer Board member in the Drug Development Program. As well, he was among the first volunteers to participate in the Healing Beyond the Body program.​

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Strachan's exceptional volunteer service was recognized April 22 when Cancer Care Ontario presented him with the first annual Human Touch Award dedicated solely to a volunteer. The award honours an individual demonstrating a commitment to cancer care through exceptional volunteer work that enhances the quality of life of cancer patients.

A cancer survivor, Strachan started volunteering to give something back to PMH and his care team. "I never anticipated how deeply I would feel about my connections here. It's a great privilege to be able to help, and this place is now such a very important part of my life."

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Dr. Malcolm Moore, Head of Medical Oncology and Hematology, whose patients come to the GI clinic says: "Strachan is a dear friend to everyone who works in this clinic and to many of the patients who attend. He is a dynamo. Always thinking up great new ideas and helping in so many ways. We can't thank him enough for his exceptional contributions."

Heather Hardie, Manager, Volunteer Resources, adds: "Strachan is devoted to improving the patient experience and so deserving of this award recognizing his stellar service. And it's an especially nice touch that he received it during National Volunteer Week.

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