CHARLOTTE – The American Cancer Society is recruiting volunteers for its Road To Recovery program, which provides patients free transportation to and from cancer treatment.
“When meeting with a newly diagnosed cancer patient, there is more to focus on than a scary disease,” said Patricia McKinney, cancer navigator with Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center. “Because a cancer diagnosis requires a multitude of doctor appointments, tests and treatments, reliable transportation is necessary.”
One of the drivers is Davidson resident Monique Collins who has volunteered with the program for about seven years. Collins drives approximately three to five times a month.
“It’s incredibly rewarding and you meet some amazing people,” she said. “It’s a simple way of giving back. It doesn’t take much to get in your car and pick someone up.”
Collins estimates she’s provided at least 100 rides over the years.
“I continue to be amazed at how many people in our area need this service,” said Dana Gruber, a volunteer with the program for the past four years.
Gruber drives patients and coordinates rides provided by other volunteers serving the Lake Norman area.
According to Gruber, most people need rides because they don’t feel well enough to drive themselves, don’t have family in the area, or need to go to treatment every day for an extended period of time.
“If you are going to radiation every day for two weeks, it’s very difficult for family to take that much time off from work to get you there,” Gruber said.
Scheduling flexibility makes it easy to volunteer for the Road To Recovery program. Volunteers can drive as much or as little as they want, with no set schedule.
Most rides in this area average about 10 miles each way, with drivers picking patients up at their homes and delivering them to their treatment centers. In most cases, the same driver picks the patient up after treatment and returns them home.
About 10 volunteer drivers serve the area. The American Cancer Society hopes to recruit at least five more.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction in helping,” Gruber said. “Just by driving your car, you can help save or extend someone’s life.”
Want to help? To volunteer, contact Aliesha Hendrix at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-685-1753. Cancer patients needing transportation to treatments may call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345.