Road to Recovery: Even The Best Cancer Treatment Doesn't Work If You Can't Get There
When Frances Cole’s oncologist recommended radiation therapy for breast cancer, the 91-year-old widow faced a daunting roadblock: no reliable transportation to get to her appointments at the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center. At first, the Parma Heights woman who no longer drives declined treatment. She didn’t want to burden anyone else’s life with six solid weeks of daily radiation appointments. But her doctor nudged her down the Road to Recovery, an American Cancer Society program that provides complementary transportation to patients who need help traveling to cancer-related medical appointments. “I’ve never taken things from people without paying for it, and I sort of felt guilty,” said Frances, whose husband died three years ago and who refused to ask family members to miss work or rearrange schedules for such a major time commitment. “All the drivers were so nice. And I felt so good about my nurses and my care, I just needed help getting there.”
Deb Sander, one of the nearly 280 volunteer drivers across Northern Ohio, was the first to pick up Frances. A breast cancer survivor herself, she finds it easy to talk with those open to chatting. Volunteer drivers indicate areas they’re willing to pick up patients. Deb typically works one to two days each week. “I honestly think I receive even more than I give,” said Deb, who has provided 122 rides since she started volunteering in May 2017.
Road to Recovery serves patients from communities across Ohio, with the greatest need in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Portage counties. All drivers must have a valid driver’s license and good driving record, proof of car insurance, and access to a computer for scheduling rides. Drivers use their own vehicles and pay for their own mileage. A thorough screening and training is done for all drivers before they begin transporting patients.
“Road to Recovery is at the very heart of the American Cancer Society’s work of removing barriers to quality health care,” said Erica Hirsh, Health Systems Manager for the American Cancer Society. “We are all too aware that even the best treatment won’t work if the patients cannot get there.”
Frances is beyond grateful for the kindness of strangers who gave her a lift, and a chance to beat her cancer. “There are so many beautiful people in this world that you don’t know about, who are willing to help,” said Frances.
To volunteer for Road to Recovery or to schedule a ride, call 800-227-2345. Calls are answered 24/7, but three days’ notice is requested to arrange transportation.
Senior Communications Strategist, University Hospitals Parma Medical Center