Put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society is set to resume operations next week.
On Monday, June 22 free rides for cancer patients will be renewed with protocols that include both the driver and patient wearing a mask. The patient must ride in the back seat. Hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes will be provided. As well, patients must answer questions about whether they have a cold or flu or have had visitors from another country.
“While we paused our services to comply with COVID-19 precautions, the need for our service continued,” said George McAffer, executive vice president. “It is with this commitment, care and abundance of caution that we resume supporting cancer patients again.”
Ladner resident Pat Morgan can hardly wait to get driving cancer patients again.
The long-ago retired heavy equipment salesman began driving for the society just two months after the free transportation for cancer patients began in 2016.
Morgan said he saw a television interview about the then-new service and thought ‘I can do that.’
He drove patients from Ladner and South Delta every day until he suffered a stroke two years ago. Recovering after only four months, he returned to driving cancer patients right up until March 17 of this year when service had to be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to help as much as I can. We need them as much as they need us,” said Morgan.
According to the society, demand for the service has increased by more than 30 per cent annually since inception.
“We expect it will continue to grow,” added McAffer. “The patients we help have neither a family/friend support network, nor the financial means to safely reach their treatment programs. Public transport is seldom an option.”
Bob Brydon has overcome four cancers and is still fighting.
Now living in a seniors’ residence in Tsawwassen, Brydon welcomes the return of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers.
“It’s life...they kept me going,” he said.
Brydon says he and a close friend who has since passed away used the services of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers frequently, driving from South Delta to the Cancer Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital.
Asked what the service means to him, Brydon replied: He will now need transportation only spasmodically, he says, about every three months. He added, “I will continue with my financial support, playing it forward.”
The Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society was established in 2015 following the unexpected cancellation of a similar program offered by the Canadian Cancer Society. The society serves Delta, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Mission, the Tri-Cities, New Westminster and the North Shore.
Volunteer drivers offer round trip transportation to treatment facilities across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Drivers are reimbursed for the km driven and parking costs and are connected to the people they will be driving in a safe and secure manner.
In order to be a driver, you must commit to at least one full day a week (one full day or two half days), be at least 21, have a driver’s licence, proper insurance and complete a criminal record check.
To learn more about the program, call 604-515-5400 or visit www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca.