Colon cancer survivor Robert Fry says becoming a volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program has changed his life forever. He says, “My mission, my passion is to do my part in helping cancer patients by driving them to their treatments.”
Fry’s own cancer was discovered in February 2016. At age 64, he’d been healthy all his life. His wife had been urging him for a long time to get a colonoscopy (the American Cancer Society recommends people at average risk start screening at age 45), but he’d put it off. Since October 2015, however, Fry had been having symptoms of what he thought was irritable bowel syndrome. When the symptoms didn’t go away after a few months, he says he knew something was wrong. He underwent a colonoscopy and says he wasn’t really surprised when the doctor told him he had colon cancer.
Fry spent most of that year having surgery, chemotherapy, blood tests, and scans. He says his side effects from treatment were mild and life mostly continued on as normal. “I’m not saying there were not days when I was tired, or inside I did not just feel right, but all-in-all, I was fortunate,” he says. Fry continued to work, do chores around the house, travel with his wife, and play with his 5 mini dachshunds.
“I really believe it did not affect me in a negative way,” said Fry. “I was not looking for self-pity, did not have the “Why me?” attitude, or blame God or anybody. I always felt I was a positive person and I try to instill that energy in everyone I meet, especially people dealing with cancer.”
In October 2016, Fry had his last chemo treatment and celebrated by ringing the bell at the cancer center in Cape Coral, Florida. “I felt like I’d just run a marathon,” said Fry. “I rang the bell extra hard.”
During one of his chemo treatments, Fry witnessed an event that moved him to tears, and motivated him to become a volunteer helping other cancer patients.
He says, “A patient sitting next to me started having a negative reaction to the chemo he was receiving. The nurses responded quickly and the doctor also came to help. He talked softly to the man and held his arm in a passionate way and calmed him down. The man recovered and was able to continue his treatment. It was the most heartwarming thing I’ve ever experienced. It is this type of sincere, go-the-extra-mile, caring from the heart from this wonderful doctor that inspired me to do the same and get involved.”
“When I saw what the doctor and nurses did, something switched inside my heart. I never before thought about doing anything like this, but something was telling me I need to help like they do,” said Fry. He went to the American Cancer Society website and saw that the Road To Recovery program was seeking volunteers. Road To Recovery volunteers donate their spare time and use of their car to give rides to cancer patients who don’t have another way to get to their treatments. Since he started driving with the program, Fry has completed almost 700 rides.
Fry says his cancer experience allows him to understand the people he drives and help them during a traumatic time. “When I drive patients to their treatments, I try to touch them in a way to give them strength to endure what they are going through. They open up to me I open up to them and together we give each other strength and support. I would like to think that in some way I have made it a little easier for them.”
And he says he gets as much out of the Road To Recovery program as he puts in:
“Driving these cancer patients to their treatments has given me the faith, hope, and love that I have never experienced. When I transport these wonderful people, I truly feel blessed that I have been given the opportunity to do it. Through volunteering in the Road To Recovery program with the American Cancer Society, I have the honor and pleasure of sharing my experience as well as listening to the patients I drive to treatment. These people are truly my heroes and the relationships we have built together are for a lifetime.”
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on American Cancer Society resources, we are no longer able to review new submissions for Stories of Hope.