The Road to Recovery
On December 30, 2015, Carla Pikey of Etters felt a lump in her breast. By the first week of January, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Of course, to survive, Pikey needed treatment, but getting herself home from chemotherapy appointments would be an issue. She lived alone, did not have close family members nearby and her friends had to go to their jobs. Friends suggested that she call the American Cancer Society (ACS), and that call put Pikey on the “Road To Recovery” in the most literal sense.
“Oh it helped a lot. I was so worried,” Pikey recalls. “This was available, and it worked out perfect for me.”
Because transportation can be a barrier for patients, Road To Recovery links cancer patients with volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles to shuttle patients to cancer treatments.
“Many of us don’t think twice about getting in our cars to drive somewhere. But for a cancer patient who may be too sick to drive themselves, or who can’t always rely on family or friends, the Road To Recovery program can literally be a lifesaver,” explains Lisa Johnson, Mission Delivery Program Manager with the ACS PA Division. “Road To Recovery can mean the difference between getting cancer treatment or not.”
The program has been helping to save lives for more than 30 years. Patients needing rides call the ACS to explain their needs, and volunteers are notified of needs. Those volunteers and patients are then in direct contact to coordinate rides. If the concept seems simple, it’s because it is simple, and anyone who enjoys driving can volunteer to help.
“A volunteer must own a safe and reliable vehicle, have a current Pennsylvania driver’s license, carry adequate auto insurance, have a good driving record, attend volunteer training and be willing to give their time to the program,” details Local Volunteer Coordinator Nancy O’Hara.
Volunteers may devote as little or as much time as they want, and the time is flexible around volunteers’ schedules. According to O’Hara, the connections made can extend beyond the act of picking up and dropping off.
“Drivers have formed real friendships with the patients they’ve met,” she says. “Many drivers have shared that they get so much satisfaction out of their involvement with the Road To Recovery program.”
Friendship along with healing was the case for Pikey who got to know a woman and her husband, also a driver, very well. She is now Facebook friends with her. Pikey is doing well and going through the reconstruction part of cancer recovery.
“The chemo did its job, so that is awesome!”
She also has plans for her future.
“I want to do this myself once I retire.”