Road to Recovery
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Driving your car could help save someone with cancer.
In this week's "Positively Milwaukee," we profile a new program run by the American Cancer Society which is called "Road to Recovery."
The idea is simple: Volunteers provide rides to cancer patients. Those rides take patients to treatments and other appointments key to their recovery.
But we discovered, these volunteers are giving much more than just a ride; they're building relationships that last a lifetime.
We visited Shantae Wines at her Racine home. She recently moved from Chicago, and didn't know many people in the area. She has been fighting Hodgkins disease for five years, and needed help getting to Froedtert Hospital for regular appoinments.
"I wasn't able to get back and forth from Racine to Milwaukee," Wines explained.
But then she got hooked up with the Road to Recovery program, and her "guardian angels," Karen and Claire Sorenson.
The sisters recently retired from teaching and were looking for a way to give back. The Sorensons explained their family has always done volunteer work, and this seemed like a perfect fit.
"Looking at the paper, there was an article about needing drivers for American Cancer Society," Karen Sorenson explained. "I figured that was something we'd be able to do, and called them up and went through training and started driving in March."
Karen and Claire's first assignment was driving Shantae. But all the women told us that relationship quickly grew beyond that of driver and passenger.
"Ever since then it's like Karen and Claire, it's like we have this bond, like they're my best friends down here," Shantae said.
"We're pretty tight, we just love her, we talk about her everyday, we have a great time together riding in the car, we just laugh. Wwe laugh and tell stories about people we know and just have a good time," Karen added.
And the day we met up with the women was a landmark moment.
"Today I'll be getting my stem cell transplant so hopefully after that I'll be finished with everything," Shantae said.
We accompanied the women on their ride to Froedtert, and the goodbye was bittersweet. They won't see each other for a month, but when they do, Shantae may finally be cured.
Heather Byron, the transportation and lodging coordinator for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, explained what makes the Road to Recovery program so important for all the people who utilize it.
"They might not have a car, they might not have access to a vehicle, they physically might not be able to drive themselves home after receiving treatment or their caregivers and loved ones might just not be able to take on that burden of all the transportation that the patient needs," she said.
The program has inspired Shantae so much, she hopes to make the transition from patient, to caregiver.
"Hopefully after today I'll be able to work with people with cancer, a smilir cancer that I have or just cancer period, that's what I really want to do," she told us.
There are about 40 volunteer drivers in the Milwaukee area. The American Cancer Society hopes to recruit at least 100 more.