Getting on the Road to Recovery

By Sandra Zunino

When fighting any form of cancer, receiving treatment is critical. For patients who have trouble getting to their scheduled appointments, Road to Recovery is waiting to help.

Road to Recovery is an American Cancer Society service program that provides transportation for cancer patients to their treatments and home again. The American Cancer Society acknowledges that getting patients to regularly scheduled treatments is paramount for cancer survival.

Consistently operational in Talbot County for the past 13 years, Road to Recovery was also instituted in Queen Anne’s County, but lost activity for a while. American Cancer Society Community Manager Jane Ricci says the program has now been reconstructed in Queen Anne’s County. “We have volunteers and want to let patients know that drivers are standing by,” she says.

The program helps cancer patients who do not own a vehicle to drive themselves to medical facilities and do not live in areas where public transportation is available. Other patients include the elderly or those too ill to drive to their scheduled appointments. Often family members or friends cannot take time off from work to provide transportation for all the frequent trips required for most treatment plans.

A free service, patients need only call The American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345, which is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week. “This is a nationwide number and will put the patient in touch with a program in the appropriate county to get transportation,” explains Jane.

The Talbot County Coordinator Jean Vail, coordinates patients in Talbot County with driver volunteers. Likewise, Queen Anne’s Coordinator Elmer Parkerson does the same for QAC patients. Volunteers have attended the Road to Recovery Volunteer Training, have valid driver’s licenses, clean driving records and use their own vehicles after ensuring they are safe and reliable for transportation. Volunteers must also provide current automobile insurance.

Patients must be able to walk to and from the vehicle and treatment facility unassisted. If a patient requires a walker or wheelchair, another person must accompany him or her to provide assistance.

Typically, patients are taken to the Regional Cancer Center in Easton or the Anne Arundel Medical Center; however, some volunteers will take patients to Baltimore facilities if needed.

Cancer patient transportation has been offered sporadically by the Society in many parts of the country since the 1960s. In the mid-1970s, a group of dedicated Society patient service volunteers in central Massachusetts developed one of the first systematic approaches to providing transportation for local patients in need. This approach was adopted statewide in 1980 by the Massachusetts Division.

The program got the name “Road to Recovery” in 1981, and a formal campaign to recruit drivers and promote the transportation service was launched. The program doubled its volunteer base within two years, and by 1982 the Massachusetts Division was providing roundtrip transportation for 1,640 patients undergoing treatment. Based on its success in the Massachusetts Division, Road to Recovery was adopted in 1983 as a nationwide program for the American Cancer Society.

For more information about Road to Recovery or other programs offered by the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. For volunteer information, contact Jane Ricci, Community Manager at 410-822-2091.

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