For the thousands of Canadians who undergo cancer treatment each year, medical appointments become a critical part of their weekly routines. For many just getting to and from these appointments can be a major obstacle in their path to treatment and is the reason the Canadian Cancer Society created the Wheels of Hope program over 60 years ago.
Ralph Miller started volunteering two years ago with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Wheels of Hope program. He is an important ambassador for the Canadian Cancer Society and ensures people get to their destinations every day without worry.
Miller didn’t expect his passengers to open up on trips to the hospital as much as they do.
“Some I think like to talk to us because we are not related to them and so we are like a sounding board,” said Miller. “I’ve had more than one person say that they received the news that their journey is not going to end well for them.”
According to Miller the key to driving cancer patients to appointments is being a good listener but also to stay relaxed behind the wheel.
“I don’t get upset, I don’t yell and scream and everything especially when we have clients with us, they don’t need to hear their drivers getting upset over a minor (traffic) issue,” said Miller.
There are upwards of 126 volunteer drivers in Calgary who drive their own vehicles for pickups and get reimbursed for their fuel.
The Honda Canada Foundation is now on board and just announced it’s supporting this valuable community program with the donation of 10 special edition Honda Odyssey minivans that will be made available to volunteer drivers across the country.
Over the next two years the special fleet of vehicles will alleviate some of the challenges people with cancer face every day in the GTA, Cornwall, Winnipeg, Prince Albert and Calgary, by getting them to and from their life-saving treatment both safely and comfortably.
“When you’re active in treatment you need to have reduced tension and improved coping skills, our drivers are trained that way,” said Dan Holinda, the regional executive director for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“Our patients are telling us that at a 96 per cent rate that’s what’s happening for them, so we’re helping them in treatment and (the) Honda Canada Foundation is standing beside us in that journey.”
The Canadian Cancer Society is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. It funds groundbreaking research, provides a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocates government for important social change.
In 2019, over 200,000 trips were offered to people with cancer by volunteer drivers across Canada.
Learn more about volunteering here: cancer.ca