The Candy Man can.
Just ask Howard.
As a volunteer in the Nutrition Support Services department, Howard’s role was to walk around with a snack cart ensuring patients kept up their appetites during chemotherapy.
But handing out sweet treats was just part of the true intention for the volunteer who patients affectionately called “The Candy Man.”
Howard knew firsthand what a difference it made to receive encouragement when times were tough — and he learned it while waiting in the same Infusion Center. As a caregiver to his loving wife, Melanie, he was by her side during her chemo treatments while she battled leukemia.
“Just making someone's day better … they go through a lot,” says Howard. “Whether it’s an Almond Joy bar or just a smile and a joke. Helping someone else is a great feeling.”
Howard wasn’t always sure he would return to Moffitt after his college sweetheart passed away.
Their Moffitt “family” had been an integral part of their life. Could he return on his own?
Months after Howard lost Melanie, he was driving near the cancer center and felt “something pulling him back.” He turned in the driveway, parked his car and went inside.
“I can do this and maybe in some small way I can repay all the people who were so nice to us, helped us and were so kind to us,” Howard remembers thinking.
After nine years of service, Howard calls his time volunteering at Moffitt and spending time with patients “the center of my life.”
“I've seen Melanie's spirit and that same ‘I can beat this’ attitude in a number of patients,” Howard says. “That is the real courage. That’s been incredible to watch."