Road To Recovery Driver Volunteered after Experiencing Need For Transportation to Cancer Treatment in Her Own Family
When Linda Conyers’ mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Linda saw first-hand the personal and financial strain on her brother as he missed days of work to drive their mother to her treatments. She checked to see if there was a transportation program for cancer patients near the Texas town where her mother and brother lived but could find nothing. The experience inspired Linda, a breast cancer survivor in Forsyth County, Georgia, to volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program, which provides free transportation to treatment for cancer patients. Linda now coordinates 20 dedicated drivers for the Forsyth County Road To Recovery program.
“Mama lived near my brother in Kingwood, Texas, just north of Houston, and my brother had to get her to chemo treatments and doctor’s appointments,” Linda recalls. “I tried to get out there every five to six weeks to give him some relief, but it was still a great strain on him, both personally and financially, as he had to miss quite a bit of work.
“I told him about Road to Recovery and even called to find out about the Road program in their area, but there wasn’t one there. Then I realized that we didn’t have the program in Forsyth County either, so finally decided that I could do something about that,” she adds.
“I’ve had the good fortune to work with Linda Conyers as she developed the Road to Recovery program in Forsyth County, says Judy Godfrey, an American Cancer Society Mission Delivery Manager. “She was determined to create a core team of volunteer drivers in her community, willing to provide a transportation solution for cancer patients. There’s nothing quite like the passion of a cancer survivor, who personally understands the challenges a cancer diagnosis brings, to lead the way.”
Many cancer patients in Georgia and nationwide do not own a vehicle, cannot afford bus or other public transit fare, or do not live where public transportation is available to them. Some patients are elderly and unable to drive and have no family members or friends to provide regular assistance with transportation. Without access to reliable transportation, cancer patients are often unable to get regular treatment, which reduces their chances of surviving cancer.
The American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program provides free transportation to and from cancer treatment for patients. The Society provides free training to volunteer drivers. Requirements for volunteering for Road to Recovery include a good driving record, a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, and a vehicle that is in good working condition. Drivers must be 18 years of age or older, and the Society conducts criminal background and DMV checks on drivers who apply for Road To Recovery.
Linda participated in Road To Recovery training in the American Cancer Society’s Gwinnett County office, then worked with a local reporter to write a news story in the paper about the Road program that Linda was starting up in Forsyth County.
“As a result of the article and through contacts at my church, we ended up with over 20 volunteers who we trained in a couple of sessions held in my home,” says Linda. “We drove our first patients to cancer treatment in 2011.” But she adds that more awareness of the program is needed so cancer patients can take advantage of the resource.
“I try to visit the local oncologists’ offices and our hospital’s infusion center occasionally to remind them that we’re available and to give them more Road literature,” she continues. “We don’t want to wish for more cancer, but we certainly would like to help those who are having to deal with it.”
In addition to coordinating the local Road program, Linda works with the Society’s Reach To Recovery program, which links breast cancer survivors with newly diagnosed breast cancer patients for support; serves on the local leadership council; participates in Relay For Life; has helped organize a wig room in the Forsyth County office to help women cancer patients; and organizes local fundraising events to benefit the Society. She lost her husband and mother to cancer, and her sister-in-law is battling breast cancer.
“I’m to the point that I want to do all that I can to help prevent cancer and to help those dealing with the condition,” Linda says.
For more information on the American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program, visit volunteertodrive.org or cancer.org.