American Cancer Society seeks more drivers to take patients to appointments

Road to Recovery program offers free service to patients

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Cancer patients must constantly go to treatment and doctor visits, but sometimes getting to those appointments can be a challenge because they might not have someone to take them. That's where the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program comes in.

"It's meant a lot to me because it gave me the opportunity to help people," Francis Grossi, a volunteer said. Cancer patients need daily or weekly treatment, sometimes spanning several months.

Two to three times a week, Grossi drives patients to their critical appointments.

"I wanted to do something more personal with the patients," Grossi said.

About 10 years ago, Grossi came across American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program. It's a free service for patients who don't have a vehicle or don't have anyone to drive them. 

"The whole purpose of Road to Recovery is to have that one on one personal service with the patient," Debbie Coover, a South East regional trainer for the program, said. 

For instance, Grossi drives from Orlando to the Moffitt Cancer Center frequently. She has a couple of patients that she's been driving for several years back and forth, Coover said.

"What's really great about the way it works now is, the driver has the opportunity to choose how far they want to drive, how often they want to drive, what days they want to drive," Grossi said.

However, the organization has hit a small bump in the road.  They're in need of more drivers so that they can continue to get results for cancer patients in Central Florida.

"As the treatments are growing and growing with the medical advances that are happening, outpatient treatment is the way that we're progressing," Coover said. "The more drivers we have, the more likely we are to be able to fill the rides for the patients that we have."

Rides are needed primarily Monday through Saturday. Drivers interested in being part of the program must have a valid drivers licenses, proof of insurance and a fully functional car. They'll also have to go through a screening process and have a good driving record. Drivers must also take an online course as part of the training.

"Maybe you have a few hours in the morning, whatever you can do -- it'd be such a help to these people and they appreciate it so much," Grossi said, adding volunteering comes with unexpected perks.

"It's been a wonderful opportunity. I've met so many wonderful people," she said. "I've made some very close friends -- to see a lot of Florida that I haven't seen. I take rides in a lot of areas I've never been to." 

If you are interested in volunteering, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org/drive.To request a pick up, patients need to contact same number and give a minimum of three-day notice in advance.

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