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

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in Victoria

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

Public packs Victoria mosque during B.C.’s Open Mosque Day

‘The best way to deal with fear is to educate. That’s what we are trying to do here’

Vancouver Island First Nations Youth Ambassadors deliver message to the United Nations

The delegation appeared at an event celebrating ‘the rich tapestry of global cultural diversity’

Turning pro on the Island

Pacific FC’s Brad Norris-Jones talks about his journey to pro sports in Victoria

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

Most Read