ShareThis Page

Road to Recovery seeks more drivers

| Thursday, March 22, 2012

From the moment a person is diagnosed with cancer, consistent medical care is critical. So the last thing patients should have to worry about is how they might get to all those appointments.

Yet, transportation remains a real challenge for far too many cancer patients.

Kristen Hillebrand, senior health initiative representative of the American Cancer Society in Armstrong, Westmoreland and Indiana counties, said the Road to Recovery program was developed beginning in the 1960s to address patients' transportation needs.

She said that transportation can be more of a challenge for patients living in rural areas. Family members often struggle with trying to balance their work schedules with the transportation needs of their loved ones.

And patients may find it difficult to drive when they are sick and going through treatments, said Hillebrand.

That is why Hillebrand wants more people to know about the Road to Recovery program.

"We want to make sure patient care is consistent," said Hillebrand.

She said more volunteer drivers are needed. Armstrong County currently has four volunteer drivers enrolled in the program.

Cari Chavira is the most recent volunteer. She is the oncology nurse navigator at ACMH Hospital's Richard G. Laube Cancer Center.

"I am constantly coming across patients facing transportation issues," said Chavira.

She said that when patients are using pain medication as part of their treatment plan, driving might not be an option. And paying for transportation can get expensive, especially when a patient has to travel as far as Pittsburgh for treatment.

Volunteering is easy, said Chavira. The program can place volunteer drivers even if it is as little as participating once a year, she said.

"The concept is so simple, it's easy to donate time and become a volunteer," she said.

Rene Claypool of Worthington has been a volunteer Road to Recovery coordinator since 2009. She said she learned about the program when she was a Relay for Life team captain in Ford City.

"I thought it was something I could do," she said.

Claypool said she receives requests for drivers through the American Cancer Society and then makes contact with volunteer drivers, asking if they are available.

"It's always nice to have several drivers," said Claypool.

That's because some drivers are able to drop a patient off at an appointment on their way to work, but are unable to pick them up.

Hillebrand said that when volunteers sign up, they are asked where they are willing to drive. Some drivers are able to drive patients to Pittsburgh hospitals, while others feel more comfortable driving locally. She said that some drivers share rides, meeting at the county borders.

"We're able to come up with creative ways to solve transportation issues," said Hillebrand.

Claypool said that being a driver in the Road to Recovery program provides a valuable service and is a wonderful way for people to give of their time.

Additional Information:

To help out

Volunteer drivers must have a valid driver's license, a clean driving record, a safe and reliable car, proof of insurance and be willing to attend a brief training session.

For more information, call 1-800-227-2345 or go to .

Additional Information:

Upcoming event

What: The American Cancer Society Western Region 24th Annual Cancer Survivors Conference.

This year's theme is 'Laugh 'Til it Heals.'

When: Saturday, March 31, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: DoubleTree by Hilton, 101 Mall Blvd., Monroeville. For directions, call 412-373-7300 or visit .

Cost: Free for cancer survivors, $10 for caregivers, family and friends. The registration fee includes lunch and a giveaway.

Registration : The deadline for the event has been extended to March 30. Forms are available at the Richard G. Laube Cancer Center and online at wrsurvivorsconference . For more information call 412-919-1057.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.