A retired Maple Ridge woman is finding a new purpose in life with the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society.
Judy White, 68, started volunteering with the organization after she answered an ad in the newspaper for drivers wanted.
“What I found, when I retired, is I didn’t have a purpose,” said White. “I didn’t have to get up and catch a train and go to work, I didn’t have to get up to do anything, but this gets me up and out, and out in the community, so I feel like I have a purpose now.”
Cancer drivers is a not-for-profit organization that provides rides for patients to and from their cancer-related appointments throughout the Lower Mainland.
White has been volunteering with the organization in her community for over a year and said she finds it “very” rewarding.
“Some of these clients, they are all alone and they don’t have anyone to talk to, so the drive there and back is an opportunity for them to have some company,” she said.
The demand for rides in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows fluctuates each week, according to White, but she recalls January being a particularly busy month this year.
White said she tries to schedule her own personal appointments all on one day so it leaves her schedule open to better accommodate the cancer patients and their appointments.
“If the demand is there I can drive up to five times a week, if the demand isn’t there it might be once a week,” she said.
Cancer is no stranger to White’s family. Her mother, step-father, father-in-law and mother-in-law were all diagnosed with the disease.
“My mom just turned 90 (years-old) and she’s still going strong,” she said.
One of the challenges the organization faces in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is the city’s proximity to some of the treatment centres in Surrey or Abbotsford, according to Jim McQueen.
The 70-year-old volunteers as a dispatcher with the organization and schedules rides for cancer patients in the community.
“It takes more drivers because we have almost as many patients, but they’re gone for usually half a day,” McQueen said.
The program is free to all cancer patients and relies on donations from the community.
“We’re there to provide a service no matter what their circumstances are,” he said.
To schedule a ride, the cancer drivers dispatch can be reaches at 604-515-5400 or an appointment can be scheduled online at www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca.
Within 24 hours a Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society dispatcher will call and confirm the appointment and riders can specify if they travel with a walker or wheelchair and whether they require any special assistance.