Hope. The word brings to mind the future and things to come. For cancer patients, it’s the word that gets them up in the morning.
The Wheels of Hope campaign at the Canadian Cancer Society in Ottawa provides such hope.
Patients can be reassured that there is help getting to and from their cancer treatments at no cost to themselves. But the little known Wheels of Hope program is more than just assistance with transportation, it is, for many a lifeline.
It’s the difference between waiting for public transportation and sitting for hours while ill after treatment, and getting a friendly empathetic hand with a smile in times of deep stress. It’s the difference between getting treatment and not getting treatment.
The Society has noticed a steady incline over the last number of years in patients using the service, and is now averaging about 24 new clients a month. Research shows that over 20 per cent of Canadian Cancer Society clients would literally not get to treatment were it not for the transportation service.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s transportation program has more than 155 drivers ferrying patients to cancer treatments in the National Capital Region, driving over 118,000 km in the course of a year.
Many of the drivers are volunteering because they themselves have been touched in some way by this all-too-prevalent disease. One such volunteer driver is Bruce Webster, who has been driving since 2004. He saw a notice on a Carleton Place church notice board and was compelled to help. Bruce, like many of you, has been touched by cancer several times. His uncle died at 52, he lost his best friend in 2001, and sadly, he lost his beloved wife Pierrette in 2010 to brain cancer. Like many of the volunteer drivers, he brings a special understanding and compassion to the patients he drives.
When you meet Bruce you see a big strong guy with a warm smile and an easy laugh. He’s got a great sense of humour.
He says he’s “building up credits with the big guy upstairs” by driving those in need. “It’s hard not to connect with clients and get involved. But I never forget why I’m there, and it’s safety first, rain or shine”. He considers it a privilege and an honour to make a difference in the patients’ lives.
You can make donations to the Wheels of Hope campaign by visiting the website at http://www.cancer.ca/wheelsofhopeottawa or by calling 613-723-1744 ext 3610.