PARKERSBURG - Volunteers are needed to help cancer patients through two programs associated with the American Cancer Society chapter in Wood County.
"Cancer is one of the most difficult things people can face and worrying about how to get to treatment or how you look is not something patients need to waste their energy on," said Sharon Lewgood, volunteer coordinator with the Road to Recovery and Look Good Feel Better programs.
Both the Road to Recovery and Look Good Feel Better programs are seeking local volunteers to aid those in treatments for these diseases.
Road to Recovery, which pairs drivers with cancer patients who need transportation to and from treatment and other medical appointments, is looking for as many drivers to volunteer their time, vehicles and gasoline as are willing to help, Lewgood said. Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so that patients can receive the life-saving treatments they need.
"Sometimes patients are terrified to drive themselves and their family and friends aren't always able to help," Lewgood said. "That is where Road to Recovery steps in and gives people a ride and emotional support."
When a driver is assigned to a patient, they are asked to remain driving the patient as long as possible in order to build a relationship with them. Not only do they provide transportation, but also encouragement and support.
Those interested in volunteering their time for Road to Recovery or Look Good Feel Better should call Sharon Lewgood at 304-488-1714 or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org for more information.
"Patients having treatment are emotionally vulnerable," Lewgood said. "Our goal is to make the patients comfortable and let them know that it is a pleasure for us to help them."
Right now, there are eight drivers in the program and Lewgood said those volunteers are stretched thin.
"So far this year they have made 330 trips and they are way into overtime," she said. "We are asking for more people to help do this wonderful work."
People avoid being volunteers because they think they'll have to drive patients every day, Lewgood said, but that's not the case. Volunteers can sign up to drive patients once a week or once a month, whatever fits their schedule.
Lewgood said she and the ACS ask that volunteers commit to two trips per month at any time.
Drivers must meet certain minimum requirements in order to participate in the program. Drivers must have a valid driver's license. They must also have a safe, reliable vehicle and proof of automobile insurance. Volunteer drivers must have a good driving history and be in good health.
The Look Good Feel Better program is looking for local licensed cosmetologists to help in the non-medical, brand-neutral public service to teach beauty techniques to cancer patients. The program helps patients manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.