TOPSHAM – More than 7,000 Maine residents are living with cancer every day. Because of advances in medical research, there will be cures for many.

Getting to the cure, however, can sometimes be a problem. The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program builds a local network of volunteer drivers to provide cancer patients with transportation to and from their treatments.

As part of the Anthem Healthy Communities giving platform, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and its employees raised more than $16,000 for the society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

The organization also awarded its top fund-raising team with an additional $1,500 corporate donation to the society that was used to purchase gas cards for volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles to drive cancer patients to and from their treatments.

Cancer patients are often too sick to drive themselves to treatments and many don’t have friends or family members who can drive them each time. Some treatments may take place as often as five times a week for six weeks.

Tina Mackie of South Portland knows this only too well. After many months of unexplained weight loss, her father was diagnosed with advanced lung and brain cancer. The news came just two days after her mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

“At ages 80 and 82, having one parent falling ill is bad enough,” said Mackie. “Having two at the same time is unbelievable.”

Mackie’s parents live about 14 miles from St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, where they would receive their cancer treatments. Knowing that Mackie and her husband live in South Portland and that both of her parents would need cancer treatment appointments several times a week for an extended period of time, the hospital recommended the society’s Road to Recovery program.

“The American Cancer Society’s free transportation program has helped us immensely,” said Mackie. “George, my parents’ volunteer driver, is the best. He has been there for them, and my parents’ anxiety about losing independence and accepting a stranger’s help has eased because of his supportive and caring manner.”

The society is recruiting volunteers statewide to ensure that all cancer patients have transportation when they need it. For more information about the program, contact the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.


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