Service Spotlight: Road to Recovery

Dick Quinn started fighting back against cancer years ago, first during his own battle with skin cancer and then when his wife, Diane, almost died from colon cancer.  He fought back again in 2008, when doctors discovered he had prostate cancer.

“I was very blessed to catch it early, so I had an easy experience considering what Diane had to go through,” says Quinn.

Today Quinn is fighting back by giving his time to the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, which matches volunteer drivers with cancer patients in need of transportation.

“I didn’t realize people are going through cancer but then they can’t even get to their treatments.  I never had that problem,” says Quinn.

Quinn is one of dozens of Road to Recovery volunteer drivers for the American Cancer Society office in Birmingham, Ala.  He has taken at least eight patients to their appointments over the last three years.  Some were four- or five-trip commitments, and others have been much more.  The program has become one of the most widely used in the Society’s Mid-South Division, having served nearly 600 cancer patients in a six-state area last fiscal year and providing more than 12,000 trips.

“Transportation is one of the most requested needs of cancer patients,” says Hillary Parmer, health initiatives representative for the American Cancer Society. “With the rising gas prices, we continue to see more and more patients who are unable to complete cancer treatment, simply because they cannot get there.”

Quinn sees Road to Recovery as a chance for him not only to give back, but also to form friendships.  He still keeps in contact with some of the patients by sending them things like Christmas cards.  Others he keeps in his memory.

“One of the first guys I helped was in his forties and his cancer was spreading through his body.  He was going through some really hard times. I got to know him and he was a really unique guy who was totally different from me. One thing we used to do after treatments was get a milkshake, because that was one thing we had in common. We liked those,” says Quinn. “I continue to think of him – and those milkshakes. You just form those relationships sometimes that really touch your heart.”

In addition to Road to Recovery, Quinn participates in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life and helps organize a survivors’ recognition event in Birmingham each summer.  He says that he’s happy to have an impact on the lives of others who are facing cancer, but the experience is meaningful to him too.

“I often hear from the patients I drive that I am such a blessing,” says Quinn. “But really they have blessed me.”