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Volunteers give ‘more than a ride’ to cancer patients

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Goodwill toward neighbors was celebrated recently as volunteers in the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program were honored during a luncheon held at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center’s Henry Cancer Center. 

The program, which has served the cancer center for decades, transports patients to treatment who might otherwise miss their appointments. The volunteers serve health care facilities across Pennsylvania, but about 30 drivers serve the northeast region. Program manager Jennifer Washney said Geisinger appointments comprise the majority of the requested rides in the region.

Geisinger Hematology Oncology Department operations manager Christine Krumich said the Road to Recovery volunteers help patients in cancer care with their logistics and their treatment.

“One of the stressors in treatment is staying compliant,” Krumich said. “There are people who, after trying to figure it all out, will give up. This program saves those people.”

Krumich added patients can deal with difficult emotions as well, such as guilt at the thought they might be burdening family members as side effects of treatment leave them unable to drive.

“The Road to Recovery program eliminates some of that emotional stress,” Krumich said.

Volunteer Gary Williams, of Shavertown, began driving for the program in honor of his first wife, whom he lost to cancer. 

“I’m retired, and I enjoy helping other people,” Williams said. “You get to know them. Most people tell us there would be no way they could afford this transportation otherwise.”

Volunteer Mike Sudal, of Pittston Township, is a cancer survivor himself, having battled lung cancer and undergone surgery to remove one lung. After three months of recovery, Sudal volunteered to help people in those same shoes. 

“I’m a people person,” Sudal said. “There’s no greater feeling than helping people. I feel like I’m giving back to God for letting me live.” 

Williams and Sudal joined other volunteers to enjoy a holiday-themed gathering, featuring dozens of cookies baked by cancer center staff and attended by staff members and Geisinger oncology providers. 

“We are grateful to all of the volunteer drivers who have been taking patients to their lifesaving treatments through the years,” Washney said. “It is more than a ride. It is a journey that drivers and cancer patients take together.”

The Road to Recovery program is seeking drivers who meet the following requirements:

  • Between ages 18 and 84
  • Good driving record
  • Current driver’s license
  • Proof of automobile insurance
  • Safe and reliable vehicle
  • Schedule availability
  • Regular desktop, laptop or tablet computer access

For more information, visit cancer.org/drive or call 800-227-2345. 

About Geisinger
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a Research Institute and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Road to Recovery patients at luncheon.
From left, at table, are drivers John Sankey Sr., Jeanne d’Arc Salinger, Keith Zinn, Gary Williams, Bob Haines, Emma Moskel, Judy Gravina, Joe Mazur, Neil Murphy, Bob Cole, Mike Sudal, and Roger Stout. Standing are Soumit Basu, MD, Colleen Pretko, Jennifer Washney, Erin Moskel, Christine Schoener, Christine Krumich, Srilatha Hosur, MD, and Numan Fateh, DO. Absent from photo but present at the event were drivers Ron Moran and Jim Jackiewicz. 

For media inquires:

R. Matthew Mattei
Media Relations Specialist

570-808-3971
rmmattei1@geisinger.edu