Driving program for cancer patients back on the road

Volunteer drivers for cancer patients in the Lower Mainland are back on the road today after the Canadian Cancer Society cancelled its door-to-door program in October 2015.

The original volunteer driver program was run by the Canadian Cancer Society but it was cancelled in 2015

John MacInnes (right) drove cancer patient Myra Ford from her home to treatments under the old volunteer driver program. Thanks to a new program funded entirely by public donations, he will once again be able to drive Ford to treatments. (Ash Kelly/CBC)

Volunteer drivers for cancer patients in the Lower Mainland are back on the road today after the Canadian Cancer Society cancelled its B.C. and Yukon door-to-door program in October 2015.

About 380 volunteers drove cancer patients from their homes to treatment centres for 25 years under the program.

Some of the original drivers worked to bring the service back after it was cancelled, renaming it the Volunteer Cancer Drivers' Society.

One cancer patient says she's grateful.

"You don't have an option. If you don't' have a family member, then you have to rely on the volunteer drivers," said Myra Ford, a cancer patient who was diagnosed with larynx cancer in 2004, then lung cancer in 2012.

"When it was discontinued, I couldn't imagine what a lot of people went through. It would be very very upsetting."

Ford's daughters drive her to treatments when they can, but they have families of their own. One time, Ford took a taxi from her home in Cloverdale to the cancer agency near Vancouver General Hospital.  The round trip cost her $100.

Cancer patient Myra Ford (left) and volunteer driver John MacInnes meet again the launch of the new Volunteer Cancer Drivers’ Society in the Lower Mainland. (Ash Kelly/CBC)

Currently the Volunteer Cancer Drivers' Society can only afford to pay their drivers for the mileage they drive. Drivers volunteer their time and some even forgo the mileage payment because the society is short on funds.

The program runs on donations from the public.

A rewarding deed

Despite not being paid for the job, helping cancer patients is a rewarding job, said John MacInnes, who has driven cancer patients for 10 years.

"You try to stay at arm's length a little bit, although I must say over the years, there have been some people that stand out in your mind," he said.

MacInnes estimates he has met about 700 people during his time as a volunteer driver.

"I can tell you in the years that I've been doing this, I don't think I've had one person complain about what has happened to them in their life."

To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Door-to-door program for cancer patients back on the road today.

With files from Ash Kelly


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