Cancer, chemo and radiation are daunting enough without adding struggles getting transportation to treatment.
That was Olive Taylor-Pearce’s challenge last year. She was scheduled for months of weekly chemo followed by daily radiation for breast cancer. She was 70 years old and didn’t drive. Even if she did, it wouldn’t have been safe to get behind the wheel right after treatment. Out of options, she called the American Cancer Society, who called Andy Berg.
Andy is an American Cancer Society volunteer driver who has given cancer patients more than 400 rides to treatment during the past 3 years. Some of his most enjoyable rides have been with Olive, who last year came to Shorewood, Wis., from Sierra Leone, West Africa, for treatment.
Driving Olive to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee is a 60-mile round trip for Andy, 67, himself a skin cancer survivor. After 400 rides, you’d think Andy might be tired. It’s really no trouble, he insists, and you believe him.
“It’s a way of giving without expecting anything back,” he says in a phone conversation with Olive on the other line.
“People who ask for rides need the rides. They’re not asking for a handout; they’re just asking for a hand. And actually, I benefit more than they do. I have yet to meet a client who wasn’t grateful for the ride. In a lot of cases, you become friends.”
Olive deeply appreciates the help. And as someone who has given generously herself (e.g., raising a needy child as her own and supporting her through medical school), she echoes Andy’s thoughts about giving. “If you help others to bring comfort to somebody else’s life, you get a lot of peace and joy through it,” she says. “I think that’s the greatest joy: helping others.”
So on these rides to treatment, what do Olive and Andy talk about?
“Just about everything,” Andy says. He and Olive laugh and laugh and laugh, clearly sharing an inside joke.
He’s very good company,” Olive finally volunteers. “For one thing, we both love the Lord and are able to share our experiences in faith.