Cancer Resource Center seeks speakers to share experiences

Bob Riter, executive director, Cancer Resource Center (CRC).

The Cancer Resource Center (CRC) is often asked to speak to various local groups about the experience of having or caring for someone who has cancer. To meet this need, the CRC is creating a speaker’s bureau – a roster of individuals available to speak with groups about being a cancer patient, survivor or caregiver.

“More than anything, groups want to hear about the human experience of having cancer. The primary requirement is the willingness to share one’s personal story,” said Bob Riter, executive director. “Cancer is a scary disease, but it’s less scary when we talk about it.”

Speakers are asked to share their personal experience, not to give medical advice. It’s fine to say, “This is what I did.” It’s not fine to say, “This is what you should do.”

“In particular, we hope to recruit speakers from the Cornell community because the majority of our requests come from Cornell classes and organizations,” said Riter.

“Many students have a family member with cancer, but may have felt awkward asking that person questions,” he said. “In a classroom setting, the students often open up and ask questions that range from the very practical to the existential.”

Most CRC presentations involve three-to-five speakers, each of whom tells his or her own story for about five minutes. Time then is allotted to questions and answers. A staff member from the CRC is present to guide the discussion.

In addition to class presentations, CRC sometimes receives requests from students who wish to interview cancer patients and/or survivors as part of a class project.

“Signing up for the speaker’s bureau will make you aware of the requests that we receive, in the hopes that you’ll be able to participate in some of them,” said Riter.  

To register or for more information, contact Riter at or at 277-0960.