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Targeting Cancer: Program helps cancer patients get to treatment appointments

(Photo via Adobe Stock courtesy Kelli Warner)

Fighting throat cancer for the last 10 months has given Joseph Grace and his wife, Lodene, plenty to worry about. But one thing the couple does not have to worry about is how Joseph will get to his treatment appointments at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute.

The couple uses the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, where volunteer drivers, like John Gibbens, who is a cancer survivor himself, provides patients transportation to essential medical appointments.

“Sometimes, patients don’t have their own car or, after an appointment, they need to be driven home and they don’t have someone with them who can do that. So, this program is really handy for patients,” John says.

Joseph and Lodene are new to the Eugene area and are uncomfortable driving around town on their own.

“I’d be a nervous wreck – I really would, because I don’t like to drive to begin with,” Lodene says.

“This program is a life-saver,” says Joseph. “Everybody has been great. I just sit in the back seat and enjoy the ride.”

Currently, there are two dozen Road to Recovery volunteer drivers in the Eugene-Springfield area. The program is free for patients, and it’s available whenever they need a lift to treatment or a follow-up appointment.

“Sometimes, I drive them one way, sometimes it’s both ways. And sometimes it’s every day. Whatever the patient needs,” John says.

But it’s not just the logistics of the ride that make this program so valuable. Volunteers also provide a warm smile, pleasant conversation and help patients feel supported.

“Our cancer patients have a lot going on; they have a lot to think about. We don’t want them to have to think about how they’re going to get to treatment. The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program is perfect,” says WVCI patient navigator Andrea Wolf.

Get more information

Patients can access the Road to Recovery program by calling the American Cancer Society’s information helpline at 1-800-227-2345 or click here. The program will soon be expanding in Lane County, so if you are interested in becoming a volunteer driver, call the helpline or find more information online.

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