Being diagnosed with cancer is daunting enough for a person to deal with but many cancer patients face an additional hardship: transportation to and from medical treatments. They either have no transportation or do not feel well enough to drive.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the need for transportation is second only to direct financial assistance. That’s why the ACS began the Road to Recovery program, connecting patients with specially trained volunteer drivers who donate their time and personal vehicle to transport them. The service is free and thanks to the generosity of the drivers, it’s a lifesaver for the cancer patients to get the treatment they need.
“It’s just one less thing they have to worry about,” says Mindy Klein, West Michigan’s ACS program manager.
Unfortunately right now, Klein says the need for more volunteer drivers in Kent County is critical.
“We’re actually getting more requests than we have drivers to accommodate,” Klein states. “We have to turn them away or find another resource for them and we don’t want to have to do that.”
Currently, the active number of volunteer drivers is between 15 and 20 people she says. “We need many more drivers to accommodate the number cancer patients who need this service. Any amount of time a volunteer can give to transporting a patient is greatly appreciated – not only by the American Cancer Society but by the patients themselves.”
Klein goes on to explain that the ACS considers the volunteer’s availability and weekly schedule before matching them with a patient. It goes without saying that treatment appointments are usually Monday through Friday during working hours. Some cancer patients need treatment daily while others may need treatment every other week. “It varies according the patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan,” says Klein.
To be eligible for the Road to Recovery services, Klein says all one needs is a cancer diagnosis and a phone call to the local American Cancer Society. To be a volunteer driver, participants are required to complete a short online training program, a background check and a motor vehicle check. It’s an easy and flexible way to make a positive impact on someone’s life.
“Many of our current volunteers have developed close relationships with their patients and often tell us that while the patient is extremely grateful, they too are greatly rewarded,” Klein says.
To find out how you can volunteer to be a Road to Recovery driver or to find out more information about this program or many other Soceity programs, contact the local office of the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.