‘It’s been a godsend for me’

Canadian Cancer Society runs a program to help patients get to and from appointments.

Patrick Newhook
Kicker News

John Kennedy and his wife Winnie have volunteered their time to drive cancer patient’s to appointment’s for 30 years. The Canadian Cancer Society runs the program and is always looking for new drivers. Patrick Newhook/Kicker

The Canadian Cancer Society’s volunteer driver program assists patients getting to and from their appointments.

The program has around 75 volunteer drivers and provides service to 100 clients in the north east Avalon.

Sarah Geck, the manager of community services with the Canadian Cancer Society, oversees the volunteer driver program.

“Last year alone we provided over 3,000 drives to cancer patients,” Geck said. “It alleviates burdens for these people. Cancer is hard enough.”

The society is always looking for drivers, she says.

“Because it is a volunteer based program, drivers come and go. The ideal number would be over 100.”

While this number seems high, one patient receiving radiation therapy would need five drivers in one week. The volunteers do about one drive per week.

Two of these drivers are John and Winnie Kennedy, a retired couple in St. John’s. Having volunteered for the program for over 30 years, they see the value in it.

“A lot of people are so sick, it helps them …,” said Winnie. “It’s important that they have this support.” 

For the past 30 years, the couple says they have provided over a 1,000 rides to patients. Dealing with such cases for such a long time can take its toll on a person, but John see’s the importance in keeping people happy. 

“I realize that people are going through a hard time, but I try to keep them upbeat,” John said. “I stay away from the sadness.”

Cancer patient Eileen Oliver regularly uses the service.

“I can’t even explain how much this has taken a load off of me,” Oliver said. “Nobody likes to get chemo, nobody likes to have cancer … It’s been a godsend for me. One big stressor I don’t have to deal with.”

Without the program, Oliver says she would find it challenging to travel to and from her appointments.

Along with doing something good, says Winnie, comes a good feeling.

“You have a feeling that you’re doing something good, but you don’t do it for that reason,” said Winnie. “You just never know when you may need someone to do it for you.”

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