When you’re diagnosed with cancer, a disorienting array of doctor appointments and treatments suddenly floods your day-to-day routine. Managing that new life while also caring for family can be an overwhelming experience for anyone.
“Every day I see patients and their families struggling, with not just the diagnosis, but the intricate level of care needed to treat them,” said Pam Gwaltney, a cancer nurse navigator at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte. Gwaltney connects those patients with a variety of resources to ease their journey.
And one of the barriers that she helps some patients overcome is the need for safe, reliable transportation to and from treatments that can include chemo therapy, radiation and infusion services. Some patients go five days a week for weeks at a time, but can’t drive themselves because of their condition and don’t have friends or family to help on a daily basis. Now, by partnering with ChemoCars, patients with cancer have access to the rides they need to receive their treatment at Novant Health that will save their lives.
A son honors his mom with a charity
Thank Zach Bolster for the idea. When his mother, Gloria, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his life was also thrown into turmoil. He quit his job on Wall Street and moved to Charlotte to help care for his mother and support his father, Gregory. Driving her to receive care, Zach noticed that some patients, often representing an older and lower income demographic, missed treatments because they couldn’t get a ride. “It was heartbreaking and unfair to see that some people didn’t have the exact same shot at beating cancer as others,” Zach told CBS News.
In December 2016, Gloria died. Zach then launched ChemoCars. The charity provides Uber and Lyft rides to patients in the Charlotte area, with the cost covered by donations. In less than a year, ChemoCars has provided more than 1,500 rides to Novant Health patients. And when patients have safe, reliable transportation, that can improve the outcomes.
Patricia Curry is among those taking advantage of the service. "I'm praying that it'll help a whole lot of other people, you know, get there and back and relief for family," Curry told CBS News.
"It is hard enough to receive a diagnosis of cancer," Gwaltney said. "Now the patient can get the treatment they need without wondering how they will get there . And for me as a cancer navigator it allows me to focus more on the patient care."