June is officially National Cancer Survivors Month, but for Darlene Robinson, every day is a day for celebration and encouragement. For years, Robinson has found creative ways to engage her community and keep her support group of cancer survivors connected and inspired.

Community outreach coordinator Darlene Robinson talks to Greene County Community Health Advisor Marilyn Sanford at an April 26 drive-through appreciation lunch at the Eutaw Community Center. (Photo submitted)Community outreach coordinator Darlene Robinson talks to Greene County Community Health Advisor Marilyn Sanford at an April 26 drive-through appreciation lunch at the Eutaw Community Center. (Photo submitted)

Darlene Robinson stands next to the Rev. Moses Finch, a Greene County Community Health Advisor, during a drive-through appreciation lunch for CHAs and cancer survivors at the Eutaw Community Center on April 26. (Photo submitted)Darlene Robinson stands next to the Rev. Moses Finch, a Greene County Community Health Advisor, during a drive-through appreciation lunch for CHAs and cancer survivors at the Eutaw Community Center on April 26. (Photo submitted)

Robinson works with the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB as a community outreach coordinator for Greene County, Alabama, and Hale County, Alabama. Not even the pandemic was enough to stop Robinson’s efforts to unite cancer survivors in these two counties.

“They look forward to even just getting out to come and seeing each other,” Robinson said. “They can relate to each other because they have gone through the same struggle."

Robinson recently hosted a drive-through lunch at the Eutaw Community Center in Greene County and at Greenleaf Baptist Church in Hale County, April 26-27, for cancer survivors and O’Neal Cancer Center Community Health Advisors. About 50 people participated.

“They would drive up, and we would fist bump and elbow bump because we had not seen one another,” Robinson said. “It was just like a fellowship to let them know that they are appreciated. Sometimes, you just have to tell people thank you.”

Robinson went even further and delivered the lunches to health care workers and senior citizens who were unable to attend. She says she was surprised by how much the group enjoyed being together in person, even if at a distance.

“It was awesome,” Robinson said. “I even got text messages about how good the lunch was. It was just a sandwich, but it’s just the idea that someone gave it to you.”

Although the women in Robinson’s support group are united by their shared experiences as cancer survivors, the word “cancer” might not even come up during their regular gatherings.

“If you were to come to our meeting, you would never know it was a survivors’ meeting. They have a common bond,” Robinson said. “This is one meeting that you will come to, and when you leave, you feel invigorated.”

Robinson is always in a planning mode, thinking about the next event and new ways to keep the group connected. Shortly after the successful drive-through event, Robinson was on to the next.

“I have a talkative group,” she said. “On Zoom, you are limited because you are talking over each other. And some of my people are just on the phone, and they can’t see everybody.

“This was an opportunity for us to see each other and just to let them know that it is going to be all right.”

Read more about Robinson here, and check out other patient stories celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day, including that of blood cancer survivor Susan Williams and endometrial cancer survivor Charlotte Patterson.

Left to right: Community Health Advisor Henrietta Williams, coordinator Darlene Robinson and Community Health Advisors Joann Greene and Hattie Williams pass out goodie bags at a drive-through lunch on April 27 at Greenleaf Baptist Church in Hale County. (Photo submitted)Left to right: Community Health Advisor Henrietta Williams, coordinator Darlene Robinson and Community Health Advisors Joann Greene and Hattie Williams pass out goodie bags at a drive-through lunch on April 27 at Greenleaf Baptist Church in Hale County. (Photo submitted)


This story originally ran in the June 2021 issue of Community Connections, the monthly newsletter of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

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