MEDFORD, Ore. -- It is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many cancer patients in Jackson and Josephine County need help getting to their doctor's appointments. You can help those patients by becoming a volunteer driver with Road to Recovery. The program is part of the American Cancer Society and connects volunteer drivers with cancer patients.
There are a couple of things you need to become volunteer, including a valid driver's license, a car and car insurance. Volunteers will also need to pass a criminal background check. The American Cancer Society also requires you to finish trainings before you start driving patients.
Volunteering for Road to Recovery is flexible. Drivers can choose what days and times they can volunteer. Drivers can choose to wait for a patient in the lobby of a hospital or volunteers can just choose to drop a patient off.
You can call this number to volunteer or request a ride: 1-800-227-2345. You can find more information about Road to Recovery here.
Volunteering for Road to Recovery
Ellen Gray started to drive cancer patients to their appointments after she retired. She's been volunteering for a month. Gray picks patients up at their house. She gives them a ride to the hospital and so much more, like warm conversation and empathy.
She is one of 12 volunteer drivers in Jackson and Josephine County. The American Cancer Society said they need more drivers in the area. They're aiming to have 30 volunteer drivers in these two counties.
"If you have one day a week, a morning even, or an afternoon that you can devote to making a big different in someone's life and getting them to the medical needs that they need to take care of, why not," said Gray. "It makes a huge difference in their life. And it makes you feel good, too."
Volunteers are trained by the American Cancer Society before they start driving patients.
Needing a ride to the hospital
Susan Matranga knows how important a ride to the hospital can be. She's fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and needed rides to the Asante Cancer Center five days a week for radiation treatment. She just finished her last radiation session last Friday.
Cancer patients shouldn't be behind the week, according to Matranga. That's because treatments can cause something called "chemo brain." It can make patients feel disoriented, confused or nauseous. To Matranga, these car rides mean more than getting from point A to point B.
"I've had a lot of good conversations and it's been very therapeutic with some of the drivers," said Matranga. "Sometimes they have cancer or they have someone close to them who has cancer, so talking to them has been very therapeutic. It's important to me to have that contact."
Matranga will figure out if she is cancer-free during the holiday season.