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Cancer patients in Luzerne County need help

An American Cancer Society program helps get people to the doctor, but volunteerism is low, especially in Luzerne County.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Volunteering with the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program has a deeper meaning for people like Gary Williams.

I do this because my first wife died about 11 years ago from cancer, so I do this in her memory," Williams said.

The program provides volunteers who take people diagnosed with cancer to their doctor appointments or treatment free of charge.

"Sometimes a family member might be able to fill in some of the gaps with that transportation need but wouldn't be able to fill all of them, so this could cause patients to miss appointments or delay appointments—all things that cancer doesn't have time for," said Kelly Parker with the American Cancer Society.

The program was put on hold during the pandemic but is now back in action. However, since COVID, the number of volunteers has dropped, especially in Luzerne County.

"We had roughly 12 volunteers before the pandemic. Now, that's pretty much the Wyoming Valley we are trying to cover with two people, and it's just not possible with the demand and number of patients who need treatments," Williams said.

Mary Schmidt, age 93, of Pittston Township, relies on volunteers like Williams to take her to daily treatments.

"I am very happy that the cancer association sends the volunteers to pick me up because I don't drive. It would be very nice if more people would volunteer," she said.

Officials with the American Cancer Society say there are a few requirements, like training and background checks, before getting started.

"We also require drivers to have a safely maintained and properly insured vehicle. We do, however, have several vehicles that are dedicated to the program that drivers can use around Luzerne County should they not want to use their own vehicle," Parker said.

Find out more about Road to Recovery here.

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.  

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