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An Important Part in Combating Cancer

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It all started when Carl Linden asked his friend to play golf. He declined – he had to drive someone to treatment that day.

That was the first time Carl heard about the American Cancer Society Road To Recovery® program, which provides cancer patients who could not otherwise get there with free rides to and from treatment. It sounded interesting to him, so he contacted his local Society office.

After completing training, Carl became a volunteer driver in March of 2011. “I’m blessed with good health. Being retired, I wanted to give back,” he said.

His mom was also a cancer survivor, so he knew firsthand about the many different challenges those with cancer face.

“If we can provide transportation and reduce that one stressor – that’s important,” Carl said.

As a driver, he worked with a wonderful volunteer coordinator, which sparked his interest in the role. He was told that he didn’t want to be lost as a driver, so he put the idea on the back burner.

Around April 2013, Carl received an “out of the blue” call asking if he wanted to be his area’s program coordinator. He immediately said yes, with one condition – he still wanted to drive patients.

“I’m so impressed with patients’ attitudes and thankfulness,” he said. “I’ve met some interesting people. Being in close quarters, you get to know them very well.”

Carl frequently hears about how much the program means to those he drives. “There was a patient who had taken the bus to treatment. It was a 2-hour trip one way, but it was only a 15-minute drive,” he said.

As a busy driver, Carl didn’t realize how much behind-the-scenes effort went into coordinating the program. He is impressed and appreciative of what coordinators nationwide do.

Known for filling in the gaps when people need rides, Carl feels that he is “working for the patient.”

He is quick though to speak about his backup coordinator/driver, Mike, and the other volunteers. “All the drivers are just wonderful people. We’re a small, but important part in combating cancer,” said Carl.

A part that he knows is essential to people who may not have a support system or the financial means to get to treatment. Drivers step in and eliminate that one stress, so patients can focus on their treatments and getting well.

He is happy to help in his community, saying that the community has to work together on things like this and noting that they need more volunteers.

As it is incredibly important to Carl, he will continue to drive for as long as possible. “The ability to assist someone is a wonderful feeling,” he said.