Transportation plays a crucial role in cancer treatment, but there's a shortage of volunteer drivers for a life-saving program in Mid-Michigan. The Road to Recovery program, offered by the American Cancer Society, gives cancer patients free rides to and from their treatments.
The goal is to make sure no one misses a cancer treatment just because they can't get there, and patients who rely on these volunteer drivers say the program is essential in their fight against cancer.
When Doris Cools was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2011, she had more to worry about than her treatment options.
"You feel bad enough knowing you have cancer," said Cools. "But when you can't drive down to the cancer center - you just think, 'How in the world am I going to get there?'"
That's when volunteer drivers with Road to Recovery stepping in, helping Cools get to and from 28 days of radiation treatment.
"The drivers would pick me up through all kinds of weather," Cools said. "Like the postman - through rain or shine or snow or whatever."
To help other patients like Cools, the Road to Recovery program is in need of more volunteers.
"The program can be flexible and on your schedule," said Julie Renner of the American Cancer Society in Mid-Michigan. "We like to make sure we have enough drivers that people can really feel comfortable saying no if they're not able to drive. The best way we can do that is to have a good, strong list of drivers we can call on for help."
It's help cools doesn't know what she would have done without.
"I have a couple of friends who could help me on and off, but it would have been difficult," she said.
Although Cools' cancer treatment isn't over yet, she says being able to depend on safe and reliable drivers helped her get through a very difficult time.
"I'm just so thankful for all of them, every one of them."
The American Cancer Society uses a screening process for all their volunteer drivers. It runs regular background checks and driving record checks to make sure all their volunteers are safe drivers.
Only patients in active cancer treatment, going to and from scheduled cancer treatments, can use the Road to Recovery services.
If you know a patient who could benefit from the program, or you're interested in becoming a volunteer, call the national cancer information center at 1-800-ACS-2345.