George Garrett (in car) and the late John MacInnes. Together with Garth Pinton, they founded the VCDS when the Canadian Cancer Society cancelled a program that gets cancer patients to their medical appointments. File photo

Growing demand for cancer drivers service in Lower Mainland

New service was created when cancer society cancelled program to get patients to appointments

The number of cancer patients transported by the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society (VCDS) in the Lower Mainland has increased substantially, going from an average of 300 trips a month in 2016 to more than 500 last year.

Figures released by the VCDS following their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in March show that the volunteer drivers made a total of 6,300 trips to and from medical appointments last year.

They racked up 363,000 kilometres on the road.

The VCDS was created as an emergency replacement by former CKNW reporter George Garrett, Garth Pinton and the late John MacInnes after the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) cancelled its Volunteer Driver Program 2015 as a cost-saving measure after almost a quarter-century.

When the CCS cancelled its volunteer drivers program, its press release said the decision was based on “factors such as similar government-funded driving programs, decreasing volunteers and ridership as well as increasing operating costs.”

Since its inception, the VCDS has grown to 148 drivers and seven dispatchers who provide service to Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, the North Shore, Delta and part of New Westminster (Service to other communities in the Lower Mainland is offered by the Freemason’s Cancer Car Program).

One of the drivers, Abbotsford resident Pauline Buck, who also serves as the organization’s volunteer Director of Communications, was elected to the VCDS 10-person Board of Directors for a 2-year term at the AGM.

“I’m glad that I can help provide cancer patients with some peace of mind by solving their transportation needs in this way,” Buck said.

“Modern medications and therapies are helping ensure a positive prognosis for many cancer patients, but their hope for a cure or period of remission often depends on their ability to actually get to the cancer treatments their oncologists have prescribed … for many, family and friends are not able to help.”

READ MORE: Appeal for cancer patient drivers gets rapid response in the Langleys

The VCDS is a registered charity, with funding coming from a variety of municipal and charitable sources.

Dispatchers work from home, and volunteers drive one to three times a week. Patients call the number, leave information with their address and time of appointment, and they get a call back within 24 hours with info on the driver.

Drivers are reimbursed 41 cents per kilometre. Some choose to donate a portion back.

READ MORE: Volunteers driven to help cancer patients

Drivers must provide proof of insurance, a reference, their ICBC driving record, and pass a criminal record check.

To schedule a ride, once a patient has received their referral and knows the dates and times of upcoming appointments, they, a family member or a caregiver can call the dispatch office at 604-515-5400.

The caller will be greeted by an automated attendant and asked for their name, address, phone number and the date and location of their appointment.

They will be contacted via phone by their designated volunteer driver to introduce him/herself, confirm they appointment, and arrange a pickup time.

It’s a round-trip, the driver will wait at the appointment location and return the patient home immediately afterward.

The society offers free transportation to patients throughout diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. A caregiver may accompany a patient and most drivers can accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.

For more information about VCDS, to volunteer, or to donate, visit www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Sarah Wark’s run just about done at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

With an overall record of 5-5, Wark’s Team B.C. won’t be qualifying for Saturday’s playoff round.

Chilliwack’s aquifer again in the spotlight with NEB pipeline approval

Concerns from WaterWealth Project and Coun. Jason Lum, but mayor says it’s time to ‘move forward’

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read