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Volunteer drivers needed for cancer patients

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Getting to and from treatment on a daily basis can add to the stress and challenges of coping with cancer. The American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers who can commit to getting in the driver's seat to help put some cancer patients on the road to recovery.

"Most people may not realize that when someone is a cancer patient they're going sometimes everyday for treatment," said Marisha Artero, health initiatives community manager for the American Cancer Society. "And so we want to make sure that through road to recovery patients are able to make those appointments on a regular basis."

Saving someone's life and making a difference could be as easy as getting behind the wheel. Artero says the organization is looking for volunteer drivers who are willing to give of their time and their driving skills. Island Cancer Center administrator Dr. Colin O'Connell sees an average of 30-40 patients a day for radiation treatment. "That can have significant hardships on the patient and the family goes back to getting mom and dad to treatment on time everyday so that they get the best care that they can," he explained.

But the daily commute for treatment can be exhausting and burdensome, especially since many cancer patients require radiation on a daily basis on weekdays for up to 7 weeks or longer. "On average, I have at least one or two patients that are under treatment that have some sort of transportation issue and road to recovery is the perfect program to address that need where a volunteer driver would assist a family to get their loved one to treatment on time everyday," added O'Connell.

Guam sees about 300-400 new cancer cases a year not including those patients who have recurrences.  O'Connell says the most common cancers are related to smoking-head, neck and lung followed by prostate, breast and colon cancer.  Artero says they are seeking volunteer drivers who are willing to donate their time and resources to take patients to and from their treatment and provide encouragement and support along the way. "They would have to have a safe driving record of course and access to a reliable vehicle and really just wanting to make a difference in the lives of patients we serve. The program is free.  Everything we do at the American Cancer Society is made possible through fundraiser.  Relay for life that happens every year," she said.

The program would be free to cancer patients on the island.  Those willing to volunteer their time and participate in road to recovery are asked to contact the American Cancer Society at 477-9451.

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