Bill Postma of Sidney is a volunteer driver with Cancer DriveLine, a charitable service that drives cancer patients to medical appointments. He’s been doing it for six years. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Cancer DriveLine society delivers 1,000th patient to treatment

Victoria volunteer group calls for donations to keep going

Since he started driving cancer patients to their medical appointments six years ago Bill Postma has now helped hundreds of people.

Postma is one of the many drivers who volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society program that ended in 2015, and joined the Cancer DriveLine society, a local non-profit that replaced the former program in Greater Victoria and which recently assisted its 1,000th patient.

“It’s hundreds that I’ve driven now,” said the retired Postma, who lives in Sidney. “I put on 12,000 kms a year, 1,000 per month.”

After a serious accident about nine years ago, Postma started volunteering with Thrifty’s Sendial program delivering groceries to people in need of help. He enjoyed helping and began to drive cancer patients to their treatments at the B.C. Cancer Agency next to the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

In its first nine months DriveLine helped transport more than 300 people as 75 drivers made more than 2,100 trips, exceeding 60,000 kilometres. In 2018, Cancer DriveLine has 80-plus drivers and 92 volunteers total (including dispatch) and assisted its 1,000th client as driver totals have now carried out over 11,800 trips, a total of more than 206,700 kms.

“We started on Oct. 5, 2015, the day after the agency closed the old program, and we adopted the drivers [for Greater Victoria],” said Judith Cameron, founding member of the DriveLine board. Drivers pick up patients from their home, transport them to their appointment at the B.C. Cancer Agency, or another medical appointment and then drive them home after.

READ ALSO: New Cancer DriveLine society calls for volunteers

Since Island gas prices spiked in May of 2018 it’s been harder on many of the drivers, Cameron said. They are on pace for a total of 50,000 to 55,000 kms driven by volunteers and about two-thirds of those drivers accept stipends to reimburse mileage. The other third are able to donate that gas money back.

Costs are rising.

“Cancer DriveLine has become so successful it’s been difficult to meet all the needs they’ve been asked for,” Cameron said. “We rely on community support and donations, no government sponsors, and no [significant] reliable donors. And no one is on payroll, no one is paid.”

One of the challenges is that while fundraising, Cancer DriveLine volunteers often hear people say “We already give to the cancer society,” Cameron said. “We tell them, ‘That’s great news but, none of it comes to us, we’re independent, and people are surprised to hear that.’”

“It gets me out of the house, out of my La-Z-boy,” Postma said. “You meet a lot of people which is nice, at times its tough, but that’s okay, it’s a tremendous service.”

Drivers aren’t trained and therefore can only offer support in terms of conversation. But with a lot of experience, that can be quite comforting, Cameron said.

“We talk about everything, careers, kids, whatever, and a lot of [patients] are nervous, especially their first time,” Postma said. “I try to calm them down, I listen… because some people are at home alone and need to talk, so I just let them.”

For more information about Cancer DriveLine visit cancerdriveline.ca.

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Fire destroys South Island Concrete building in Sooke

No injuries resulted from large structure fire

OUR VIEW: Search and rescue organization needs to be examined

No organization should be immune to scrutiny

Over 100 take the Vancouver Island polar plunge

More than $25,000 raised for BC Special Olympics athletes

VIDEO: Thousands enjoy Family Day fun in Saanich

Cedar Hill Recreation and Arts Centre hosts Family Arts Festival

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read