American Cancer Society seeks volunteer drivers to transport patients to local treatment
Asheville, NC – April 3, 2014— Like many families, Don Deibert of Asheville’s family has been affected by cancer. So when the American Cancer Society came to his church four years ago looking for community volunteers to drive patients to cancer treatment, Deibert didn’t hesitate. After a short training, he began driving local patients to their chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment-related medical appointments. The program is called Road to Recovery, and thanks to volunteers like Deibert, all of the rides are provided free of charge.
“I wanted to do something to help,” said Deibert. “Many people need rides. Some live alone. Some have family members who work and can only take them to some of their appointments. Some have their own vehicles, but they don’t feel up to driving.”
Deibert was a Road to Recovery volunteer driver for about a year when a program coordinator position opened up. Once again, Deibert wanted to help and stepped forward. Now he volunteers with the American Cancer Society coordinating all of the rides requested by local patients. In 2013, he coordinated nearly 700 rides for patients who otherwise would have had difficulty keeping their potentially lifesaving appointments.
Eighty-eight-year-old Alma Allen of Asheville is extremely grateful for the program. Allen turned to Deibert and the Road to Recovery program when her son suffered an injury and was no longer able to take her to her chemotherapy appointments. “It’s a blessing to get there,” said Allen. “I just don’t know what else I would do. I can’t drive anymore. Don always has someone lined up to help me.”
Lea Bortell of Black Mountain is also thankful for the rides she received through Road to Recovery. “It’s a wonderful program! I don’t know what I would have done without it. It’s a Godsend and a lifesaver,” she said.
In January of 2013, Bortell was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was preparing for a lumpectomy when a test revealed she also had a type of chronic leukemia. Her dual diagnosis meantradiation and chemotherapy treatments plus blood transfusions and a seemingly endless amount of tests.
“The drivers were always on time and everyone was friendly and caring,” said Bortell. “It was a pleasant experience in the middle of a very difficult time for me.” Bortell completed her chemotherapy in October and her radiation treatments in December just before the new year. She is happy to report that her most recent mammogram and CT scans were all clear and that her leukemia is also in remission.
“When I meet with patients, they often mention transportation concerns above other stressors,” said Sally Kodaras, the American Cancer Society’s patient resource navigator at Mission Hospital whose job is to help remove patients’ barriers to care. “I commonly utilize the Road to Recovery program to assist patients in getting to their appointments as scheduled. Decreasing this stressor and others contributes to increasing the patients’ treatment outcome. The Road to Recovery program has enabled many Mission Hospital patients to get to treatment when they had no other alternative. Patients and I appreciate our community members who volunteer to help Buncombe County residents who are in need.”
Deibert currently has 10-15 volunteer drivers and is in need of at least five more to help people like Allen and Bortell get to their appointments in Buncombe County. Anyone interested in volunteering as a driver must have a good driving record, valid driver’s license, automobile insurance and a vehicle in good working condition. Rides are needed Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and the schedule is flexible to each volunteer’s availability. The American Cancer Society provides free training. For more information on becoming a Road to Recovery volunteer, contact Aliesha Hendrix at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-685-1753.
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress nearly 14 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. As we mark our 100th birthday in 2013, we’re determined to finish the fight against cancer. We’re finding cures as the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.