This holiday season, and all year long, if you have a car and few hours to spare, you can make a difference in the life of a cancer patient as a Road To Recovery driver. The American Cancer Society is now recruiting volunteers throughout Massachusetts, especially in the western part of the state, to ensure all cancer patients have transportation to and from their treatments. Whether you are available once a month or once a week, even for an hour, you can be a Road To Recovery volunteer.
“Every driver has what it takes to help save lives,” said Michele Dilley, program manager for mission delivery at the American Cancer Society. “We’re urgently asking drivers to volunteer to take cancer patients to treatment. One cancer patient requiring radiation therapy could need between 20 to 30 trips to treatment over the course of six weeks. A patient receiving chemotherapy may need weekly treatment for up to a year.”
Many cancer patients don’t own a vehicle or can’t afford the extra gasoline. Some patients may be elderly and unable to drive or have no family members or friends who are able to provide regular assistance with transportation. Some patients don’t have access to transportation at all, and public transportation is not ideal for those who are in treatment and who are fatigued, sick, and often at risk of infection.
Gary Royal, a Tyngsboro resident, started volunteering as a Road To Recovery driver in 2014 after his retirement. He said he was searching for a meaningful way to give back to his community and found the program’s sign-up and training very easy. He now drives cancer patients in an approximately 25-mile radius around his home about twice a week, and he sees his hundreds of rides given in a year as his donation to the Society.
Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their vehicles, so patients can receive the cancer-related treatments they need. To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle, and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be at least 18 years old and have a good driving history. They arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours or as many hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background, driving record and vehicle checks.
“Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there,” said Dilley. “Access to care is a big problem in our country, with low-income and minority persons and those living in outlying communities suffering the most from disparities. Transportation programs are vital for these patients to get the treatments they need and deserve.”
For information about the Road To Recovery program, to volunteer as a driver or to request a ride, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to www.cancer.org.