What is a Chemo Buddy? A Chemo Buddy is a volunteer who works in the chemotherapy treatment room directly with patients. The goal of the Chemo Buddies program is to make the treatment day a more comfortable experience physically, mentally and spiritually. Each facility where we serve has it’s own requirements, but here is the general description:


Our job is to provide hospitality, a listening ear, friendship, compassion and encouragement as well as try to meet any physical needs that we can… and do whatever it takes to get the job done!

Our job is similar to what you would do if you had a guest visit your home.

Hospitality: Smile, be warm and welcoming. Offer your guest a drink, a snack and anything else they may need to be comfortable such as a blanket or a pillow.

Be a good listener: If your guest feels like talking, your job is to listen, not to tell your own stories. Engage your guest in conversation about their life, their family, hobbies, interests. (Do not ask questions about cancer/treatment/prognosis; and be conversational, not prying or an interview!)

Friendship: Be so kind that your guest wants to be your friend. Take a genuine interest. Be as helpful as you can both to the patients and their guests. MANY of our guests tell us that they look forward to coming to hang out with us. As crazy as it may sound, many have told their doctors that Chemo Buddies actually make chemo pleasant! (However, we do discourage relationships outside of the treatment room.)

Compassion: Sometimes one of our guests needs some extra TLC. It is encouraged that you pull up a chair and take as much time as needed to help them through the difficult days. Conversely, you might also want to take extra time on the celebratory days!

Encouragment: If your guest shares that they have a grim prognosis, be appropriately sympathetic, but also tenderly remind them not to lose hope, miracles happen every day! Similarly, if a patient is struggling with ANY type of issue, do your best to be encouraging, and perhaps recommend a cancer support group.

Whatever it takes: No one really likes to clean do they? But we all know it is necessary so Chemo Buddies do their best to keep things tidy, restock things as necessary, and do other tasks as assigned to keep things running smoothly.

The fine print

***Volunteers are the heart of the Chemo Buddies program. The primary qualification for volunteering is compassion and a willingness to serve. 

Volunteers must be on Facebook and have an active email account, and once assigned a regular shift (not sub) must purchase a Chemo Buddy apron with your name embroidered on it for $30. Volunteers must be at least 22 years of age, not a student, and not currently a chemotherapy patient.

Also, volunteers need to good listeners! If your friends tease you about how much you talk, this probably isn’t the right fit for you. A good conversation ratio is when the patient talks 80% of the time, and the volunteer talks about 20% of the time.

Volunteers must complete a training and orientation class,  have a current TB test, and flu shot during the winter months. Some locations provide these free of charge, but not all locations. Your shift for the treatment room is 3 hours, and will be the same day and time each week. ***