American Cancer Society call for drivers, volunteers

Published 10:15pm Thursday, March 21, 2013

More than 27,000 Alabama residents are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and for many of them simply getting to their treatment may be one of the most difficult parts of their fight.

The American Cancer Society is addressing the issue, creating a Road to Recovery program that utilizes volunteer drivers who can drive cancer patients to and from their treatments.

The program especially needs drivers in Dallas County, Luella Giles, Health initiatives representative for the American Cancer Society said Thursday, noting there will be a training session for prospective drivers at the Dallas County Health Department, Tuesday, April 16 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Cancer patients can’t always rely on family and friends to take them to their appointments, Giles said, because some patients simply do not have a vehicle or may be too ill to drive.

“We’re looking for drivers to drive patients to and from their treatment,” she explained. “These drivers just have a have a valid driver’s license, a dependable car and we do a motor vehicle check.”

Giles said prospective Road to Recovery drivers will be trained on the do’s and don’ts of driving a patient.

Volunteers with a car and insurance, safe driving skills and can drive as little as one weekday morning or afternoon a month, can give cancer patients peace of mind and the chance to get to their treatments, she said.

Giles said the initial intent of the program is to drive patients from Dallas County to their treatments in Montgomery.

“If there is a need in Dallas County, they can drive in Dallas County, but we know a lot of people are coming to Montgomery from Dallas County and that they’re needing transportation to Montgomery,” she said. “Without volunteers driving patients to and from their treatment, a lot of patients would not get their treatment, and of course that will increase mortality rates in the area. Some people just don’t have the means to get to their treatment — and some people, believe it or not, don’t get treatment at all for that reason. We’re trying to ensure that patients have, at least access to their treatments.”

Drivers for the program are strictly volunteers and will not be paid or reimbursed for their services.

“Because of the way things are in this economy, we understand that it’s hard. But that’s when I think you get the most satisfaction from giving, when you really don’t have it to spare,” Giles said. “So really, just give from your heart, the time that you have and help someone have another birthday.”

To volunteer or to find out more information on the Road to Recovery program contact Luella Giles at (334) 612-8162.

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