Volunteer Cancer Drivers’ Society
Larry Coleman mentioned that you are accepting testimonials; thus, I am taking this opportunity to give mine as well as a donation to your invaluable service.
I am a 68-year-old senior lady with no family or friends for support. I was given the phone number for the Volunteer Cancer Drivers’ Society by the Share Services. On May 6, 2016, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, which subsequently required surgery, 30 radiation treatments (Monday to Friday starting on July 19, 2016) and daily chemotherapy pills, as well as numerous appointments with specialists including surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology and ostomy care.
I am forever grateful to Larry, Ron, Rob, Anna-May, Francine and Sharon. Throughout the 6 weeks of treatment, I quickly realized I was in the hands of warm-hearted people who voluntarily gave their time and smiles to make my journey less frightening. On one occasion, I had difficulty getting in and out of Rob’s vehicle; lo and behold, when he picked me up after my treatment that day, he had gone out and bought a stool to help me. Thank you Rob!
All of the drivers are punctual and excellent drivers. It warmed my heart to see them waiting with cheery smiles after my treatments. Conversations regarding “moles”, travel abroad, golf, tennis and potlucks as well as their sense of humour, were a welcome diversion from the discomfort I was struggling with. In essence, they become my family on May 30, 2016. I would not have been able to receive the prescribed treatment without their support. Thank you Larry, Ron, Rob, Anna-May, Francine and Sharon as well as Santosh and Amy, the coordinators!
Your Society fills a void in the Tri-Cities area and, if and when I am able, I hope to pay-it-forward by volunteering my time for local events to bring the much-needed attention to the Vancouver Cancer Drivers’ Society.
The Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society is an amazing group of people who do so much for those suffering from cancer. My husband has bladder and lung cancer - two different specialists and treatment protocols. George, our volunteer driver has been amazing. Over the last several months he has driven my husband once or twice a week into Vancouver, from White Rock. He always phones to confirm the appointment and is polite and calm. I can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate him. Thank you George.
We also appreciate the coordinator, Santosh, for taking care of the booking details. She is well organized, caring and easy to talk to, especially when the hospital changes dates and times. Again, thank you Santosh. My husband has been ill for five years, and I was reaching caregiver burnout. Thanks to Volunteer Cancer Drivers I have a couple of hours a week on my own. These folks recognize the stress and constant concerns caregivers go through, and do alleviate this. So thank you from me, although I do not have cancer. We are most grateful.
We had wonderful service yesterday from your driver Pat Morgan, who took us from Tsawwassen to the cancer clinic and back. Can't praise him enough! I have written a letter to the editor and sent it to the Province and Sun, as well as two Victoria papers, so I hope someone prints it. Here it is:
We recently had the need to travel from Victoria to Vancouver to visit the BC Cancer Agency for a test. The BC Government thankfully provided the cost of the ferry travel through their 'request for travel assistance' via the Medical Services Plan. However, this still left the stress of dealing with Vancouver area traffic. Fortunately, we found an organization called Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society which offers a totally free driving service to cancer patients in many areas of the lower mainland. Other communities may have similar programs, such as the Cancer DriveLine Society in Victoria.
One of their very pleasant drivers picked us up at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, drove us to the clinic, waited for over three hours for our appointment to conclude, then drove us back to the ferry. This wonderful service reduced our stress levels tremendously, allowing us to concentrate on the medical issues at hand. My appreciation for their service is unbounded, and I will be making a donation to fund their program for others who need it. I very highly recommend any cancer patients requiring similar assistance to contact them.
Dear Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society,
Happy 1st Anniversary VCDS! Your hearts are so generous for all your efforts to help us from one year ago on this day. You have touched and changed many people’s lives I was one of them, of course. So I’d like to say Thank you for your kindness to me and my family. I shall keep supporting you the best way I can hoping it will bring the change In the good way to others
To read her letter to the Tri City News, please read on.
Melanie has had her share of misfortune. A few years ago her husband died of cancer. Now she has been diagnosed with the same disease.
Melanie, who prefers that her last name not be used, says she has to rely on friends and relatives for transportation to and from cancer treatment facilities. She said cancellation of service previously provided has “left us on our own. It is very stressful.” If she is unable to get help from friends or family she is faced with costs of as much as $100 per round trip plus about $20 parking if treatment lasts more than two hours.
As with dozens of other cancer patients Melanie is looking forward to service to be provided by Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society.
Myra Ford has been treated for cancer over the past several years. She requires chemotherapy every 3 weeks at the Cancer Clinic at VGH. It is a very long trip from her home in Cloverdale. She formerly used the service provided by the Canadian Cancer Society but was devastated when that service was discontinued. She has had to rely on family members ever since. On occasion she has had to take a taxi to and from her treatment in Vancouver at a cost of $100. She asks: “Who can afford that?”
Myra is delighted that the Volunteer Cancer Drivers will once again provide the service so desperately needed. She plans to take full advantage of the renewed service. She says it will mean a lot to her.
To all the wonderful Drivers & Staff of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society. I have been going for chemo at the Fraser Valley Cancer Clinic since July/16. You have made my illness bearable. I am unable to get around by myself and if it were not for your Society, I would be unable to go for chemo. The Drivers are unfailingly caring and kind. I have mostly dealt with Santosh over the phone and she has been an angel on Earth. From my heart, please accept my love and gratitude for what you all do. I couldn't make it without you all.'
~Helen, White Rock
Dear Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society,
I’m writing today to say thank you, and how much our family, my family and friend in Japan appreciate your service.
I remember at this time last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of November and was told that chemos and the other treatment would start in the spring. When I found out the Canadian Cancer Society’s volunteer service was discontinued, my worries grew bigger, which added to the unknown outcome of pre-check-ups and operation. Yes, last Christmas was a pretty gloomy time for me.
Your volunteers not just gave me a needed ride; each one of you inspired me so much that I really believe it was the one of the big factors that I recovered very well.
This Christmas, after finishing my treatments without many side effects, I feel more cheerful and positive about what the future may bring to me. Having cancer was an inconvenient thing, but because of this, I have met wonderful people like you and have been able to change the perspective of my life; it was a mixed blessing for me.
Special thanks, to Mr. Pinton, Mr. Garrett, and Mr. MacInnes; without your action, this organization would not exist today. I’m about half the age of Mr. Garrett and Mr. MacInnes, but you sure have more vitality to get things going, which always makes me amazed!
Also, special thanks to the Tri-City volunteer team who directly looked after me (I’ll write them a separate thank-you note, soon). My family and I will remember your kindness always.
Thank you very much again; and I wish all of you good health and much success to your organization in the coming year.
Cancer patient Gretal Walters has been given rides by Volunteer Cancer Drivers for the past six months. She says she has had three different drivers so far and found them all, including driver Larry Coleman to be ‘very nice.’ She says, “Right now we talk about my treatment. At other times we tell stories about our families.”
Gretal says the service provided by the Volunteer Cancer Drivers is very important.
She added, “I am very that I have this opportunity at my age. I don’t drive anymore. It’s the best thing. If I didn’t have the cancer drivers I would only have a taxi.” Greta explained she had a family member in Pitt Meadows drive her but he now has cancer and can’t take her any more. That is why the service by cancer drivers is so important.
North Vancouver widow Karen Saleh was diagnosed with cancer in November 2018. Ever since she has had several return trips from her home in North Vancouver to the cancer clinic at Vancouver General Hospital. Karen says she loves her drivers.
She says, “They’re so kind and fantastic. They’re amazing, really.”
Before she learned of the free service provided by the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Karen said she took taxis. She said the return trip cost $150 from her home in North Vancouver. She said, “I had no one else to turn to. I live alone in a building where I hardly talk to anyone. I have nobody.”
Karen added, “The volunteer cancer drivers’ service is very, very important to me.”
North Vancouver widow Joan Leber says our Volunteer Cancer Drivers are very professional and have saved her life during a very trying time. While she was dealing with cancer and a heart condition she said her husband was placed in a care facility and later into palliative care where he died. She said, “It was right at the time that I had to go into radiation. These drivers saved my life. I don’t think I could have gone through it without them because of everything that was happening. I was in trouble and I needed some help. They were right there for me every time.”
Joan said the service has been very professional. She said, “Every time I needed a driver they were there on time, took me to the cancer clinic. When my husband was in palliative care they dropped me off there, which was over and above what they needed to do.”
Nancy Sutcliffe of North Vancouver was shocked when she was diagnosed with cancer in April 2018.
Her first trip from the North Shore to the cancer clinic at Vancouver Cancer Centre was by taxi – at $85 each way. She said from then on she was taken by Volunteer Cancer drivers. She said, “They were wonderful. They picked me up at the house. They took me to the cancer clinic. They came right up to the floor where I was having the treatment. They waited, they brought me bottles of water. They were just wonderful. Very, very kind people.” Nancy said she made twenty-five consecutive trips for radiation. Without the volunteer drivers, Nancy said she would either had to take a taxi or use public transportation, adding that it would mean three buses and an hour and a half.
Nancy is encouraging her friends to volunteer. She said, “I tell my friends. This is what you should do.”
"Enclosed is a small donation for the Volunteer Cancer Drivers. Words cannot express what a fabulous service you operate."
~ Marilyn, Surrey
"As always, a HUGE thank you to all of you at the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society. I don't know what I would do without the assistance of your drivers."
~ Roxanne, Langley
"Please accept this small donation and thank all of you for providing this wonderful service. It is much needed and greatly appreciated. I hope you get enough support to keep going...once again, many thanks."
~ Marion, Langley