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John Grenon describes himself as "the weird one" among
Dana-Farber volunteers. He's different from his counterparts, who
usually volunteer because they are former patients or the family
member of a patient. Grenon's involvement came about in a totally
The New Bedford resident found himself at Dana-Farber last
November when he started working as a personal driver. At first,
Grenon would sit in the lobby during the long wait time and
"Sitting in the lobby, I pretty much read anything I could get
my hands on. I started reading about the volunteer opportunities,
saw firsthand the work they were doing, and thought to myself, 'I
can do that,'" he says.
Now Grenon, 61, who worked in the seafood industry for 20 years
buying fish off boats to resell before being laid off about two
years ago, volunteers as often as he can. He helps out wherever
needed, but mainly spends his time in the Eleanor and Maxwell Blum
Patient and Family Resource Center. There he compiles a book of
clippings from newspapers and magazines that help newly diagnosed
patients get information on their conditions, and serves as a
general resource for patients and families.
"You see people at their best and their worst. Some are happy,
some sad or angry, and patients go through all these emotions.
Sometimes it's just about being an ear," says Grenon.
Grenon's transition from cod to cancer was untraditional, but he
says he couldn't be happier. When asked what he enjoys most about
volunteering at Dana-Farber, Grenon doesn't hesitate: "the