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Cancer survivor gives rides to patients, says volunteers are needed

POSTED: May 14, 2014 12:56 a.m.

Former ovarian cancer patient Sue Sigmon-Nosach was looking for a way to help others with cancer.

“When I was diagnosed in 2004, there weren’t a lot of resources,” she said. “And I had just moved up to the area. With a diagnosis like that, because I was told I was going to die, of course those words are very daunting.

“I didn’t die, obviously,” she said. “So I just looked at how I could help other people on their cancer journey.”

Sigmon-Nosach found her niche with the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, which brings together volunteers with cancer patients who need help getting to and from treatments.

“We have a small Road to Recovery program (in Hall County), and we need to grow it,” said Pam Ashman with the American Cancer Society. “If anything, we have more patients wanting to use the service than we have drivers.”

There are three volunteers in the Hall area; Ashman said the program will take as many volunteers as it can find in Hall, White, Habersham, Barrow, Jackson and Stephens counties.

“We know that one of the biggest reasons people choose not to have treatment or can’t complete their treatment is because of transportation,” Ashman said. “Whether it’s (because) they’re elderly and unable to drive, or they’re too ill to drive, they have no family members or friends who can provide regular assistance ... because even if you had a spouse or a loved one, if they’re working, they only have so much vacation time they can use.”

There’s also the financial aspect, with fuel and vehicle expenses.

“People don’t budget to have cancer,” Sigmon-Nosach said. “Nobody has that line item on their budget that says ‘cancer’ ... and there are just so many expenses associated with cancer, things that we never think of. This was just one of the things.

“I was treated at Piedmont in Atlanta, and I had a husband who could drive me back and forth. A lot of people aren’t that lucky.”

Road to Recovery volunteers do have to meet a few requirements. They must be 18 or older, pass a background check and have a good driving history.

They must be willing to commit for a year and drive at least twice each month. They must have an insured reliable vehicle. All gas expenses and wear-and-tear are considered donations; the driver is not reimbursed.

More drivers are needed because many cancer treatments require multiple monthly visits. For example, a patient getting radiation may receive treatment for up to eight weeks on a daily basis.

Anyone interested may call Ashman at 404-582-6120, or email her at pam.ashman@cancer.org.

“It’s one less thing for (patients) to have to worry about, to know that somebody is going to come pick them up and bring them home after they go have chemo or radiation,” Sigmon-Nosach said.


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