The Rapidian

Volunteers Needed! Road to Recovery Gives Cancer Patients Free Rides To Treatment

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Arlene Hicks helps ensure cancer patients get the rides they need to and from cancer treatments.

Arlene Hicks helps ensure cancer patients get the rides they need to and from cancer treatments.

By Sally Blanchard

This year in Michigan more than 53,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer. They will find themselves needing chemotherapy, radiation, and other medical care. They will also need support, educational resources, and compassion. The American Cancer Society offers many programs free of charge to cancer patients and their families in West Michigan. One of these programs is the Road to Recovery program.
Road to Recovery is an American Cancer Society volunteer-based program that provides transportation for cancer patients to and from their treatments. Volunteer drivers transport patients from their home to cancer treatment centers, doctor visits and other cancer-related appointments. 
Lack of transportation leaves cancer patients with few options for completing their treatment schedules. Many patients need daily or weekly treatments over a period of months and simply have no way to get there. Although family and friends may be able to help, there are many times when they're not available. Road to Recovery provides transportation options for patients in this situation. 
Arlene Hicks is a volunteer Road to Recovery coordinator in Grand Rapids who coordinates rides with drivers and patients needing transportation. Arlene knows firsthand the difficulties cancer patients and their families face with transportation and day-to-day activities while undergoing treatment.
“I am constantly amazed at the dedication of our Road to Recovery drivers,” Hicks said. “Many have been driving for 10 to 20 years. I call them on the phone every week and ask them to check their calendar and tell me what days they can drive. Then I schedule the driver to a cancer patient who does not have their own transportation to go for treatment. The driver picks them up at their home, drives them to their appointment and returns them back to their home. These appointments can last anywhere from 1-6 hours. This is all for free.
“Their commitment creates a feeling of pride that I am a part of the Road to Recovery team. When I retired from my 20-year career, I was searching for a meaningful opportunity to volunteer my time. Then, my brother Bob was diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor and died seven months later.
“I heard about my sister-in-law’s struggle to transport Bob to radiation treatments everyday while working full time. That’s when I called the American Cancer Society and asked how I could help. They offered the opportunity to be a Road to Recovery coordinator. Now, after four years, I continue to feel blessed to be with a group of people who care so much about others.”
The American Cancer Society in Grand Rapids is in need of volunteers for its Road to Recovery program. To volunteer, all you need is a vehicle and a few hours to make a difference in a cancer patient's life. You can volunteer on a regular basis or only occasionally – you set your schedule. 
Volunteers must:
-Own a safe and reliable vehicle
            -Have a current, valid driver's license
            -Have proof of adequate automobile insurance
            -Have a good driving record
-Attend Road to Recovery volunteer training
Local community members who are interested in volunteering for the Road to Recovery program should contact the American Cancer Society anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345. You could literally be giving someone the ride of their life.

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