Cancer is a disease that causes a lot of pain. So, how do you find something good in a situation that can be so bad? Sometimes, it’s all about “taking a drive.” That’s what Gail Banks and Rick Folkers have learned.
Gail is a cancer patient who requires frequent treatments.
“I have a lot of doctors’ appointments and getting there is difficult,” Gail told us.
Rick also has cancer, but with a very good prognosis, he is able to volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.
“We all need help and if you can give it, that enriches you as much as it enriches anybody else,” said Rick.
And, in an unlikely scenario, an ugly disease has led to a beautiful friendship. We took a drive with Gail and Rick recently. We listened as they bonded over their own cancer stories.
“How are you feeling?” Gail asked Rick.
“I’m doing pretty good today. How about you?”
“It’s been a better week,” Gail replied with a slight smile.
But cancer isn’t the only thing these two people, just strangers a short time ago, talk about on their drives to treatment.
“I’m a talker,” said Gail with a laugh! “I get in the car and I want to know where do you work, how many kids you got and do you have any grandkids… I have 8!”
Rick talked about his new car, a Tesla. “I can put it on autopilot, but I won’t do that today!” he joked.
It’s not Rick’s own battle with cancer that led him to volunteer as a Road to Recovery drive.
“I had a brother who had cancer and I’m very aware they had difficulty getting to appointments,” he said.
“I have a lot of doctors’ appointments and getting there is difficult, you know, because you’ve already been to the doctor twice this week and now you’ve got to go again,” said Gail.
But the volunteers provide more than a reliable ride. Because most of the drivers do have their own cancer story, they can provide hope, says Gail.
“They help me to realize I’m not the only one in the fight. And it gives me more people in my life I can think about,” said Gail.
More than anything, say both Rick and Gail, these drives are filled laughter, hope, and new friendships that fill an isolating gap that cancer may cause.
“Sometimes the patients ask me to pray for them,” Rick said. “One of the biggest pleasures we have as drivers is when we drive someone to an appointment one day and they come out and do a little dance and say “the doctor said I’m cured!”
With a tear rolling down her face, Gail summed it up this way. “It’s really nice to know you’ve got someone who is able and willing to take you and they’re happy about it. They’re just happy. And I appreciate him (Rick) more than he will ever know.”
If you would like to volunteer to drive in the “Road to Recovery” program, or if you are a patient in need of transportation contact the ACS at www.cancer.org/drive or by phone at 1.800.227.23