Cancer Council's volunteer bus drivers give their time to drive cancer patients to and from hospital appointments.
Cancer Council's volunteer bus drivers give their time to drive cancer patients to and from hospital appointments.

Volunteer drivers shift up a gear to help cancer patients

NORTHERN Rivers residents answered the call of the Cancer Council to support cancer patients in need of volunteer drivers.

After many older driver volunteers were unable to continue helping at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, younger helpers came to the rescue.

Northern NSW Community Lead, Caitlyn Feldmann, thanked those who raised their hand at the beginning of the pandemic during National Volunteer Week.

“Thank you Northern NSW for volunteering in support of cancer patients in need,” she said.

“We have received more than 61 applications so far, resulting in 19 newly recruited drivers who will be on the road for us in the coming weeks.

“What an amazing result meaning that hundreds of cancer patients will now be able to access their lifesaving treatment.”

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The council’s Transport to Treatment service relies on volunteer drivers to help isolated regional cancer patients get to their treatment appointments when they’re too sick to drive themselves.

Last month, in line with government advice, 91 per cent of the Cancer Council NSW’s Transport to Treatment volunteer driving force was stood down due to their increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

Ms Feldmann said many of the volunteers impacted were over the age of 60 and at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

“Cancer never stops, not even for a global pandemic. We needed drivers desperately or, put simply; some cancer patients would not be able to access their lifesaving treatment. So, who came to the rescue? You did,” she said.

“Within a matter of days, we received enough expressions of interest that we could keep our local T2T service operating at full capacity.”

She said the Cancer Council still needed three to five more drivers in the Ballina and Lismore area, so those under the age of 60 with some spare time can reach out to their local Cancer Council office or head to cancercouncil.com.au.

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