'Road To Recovery' volunteers offer free rides to cancer patients in Metro Detroit

Greg Krawczyk volunteers to help cancer patient Debbie Wilson

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – A program through the American Cancer Society is helping cancer patients throughout Metro Detroit who need help getting to their appointments.

Greg Krawczyk, of Plymouth, gets up before 7 a.m. as the sun is just starting to awaken. He promised Debbie Wilson he would pick her up at 7:15 a.m. in Westland.

Krawczyk is never late, and Wilson is always ready. The destination is predetermined, but it's not like Uber or Lyft. No money will be exchanged.

In this case, the journey has a much greater meaning. Wilson has stage three breast cancer and is in her second round of chemo treatments. Krawczyk helps her make a drive she couldn't do herself.

"I can't take myself," Wilson said. "Once I have chemo, they give me something that makes me drowsy. I'm not about to drive myself back."

Krawczyk is a volunteer driver with the American Cancer Society's Road To Recovery program.

"The courage and strength that ordinary people have in the face of a serious diagnosis -- I'm always impressed by that," Krawczyk said.

Road To Recovery pairs patients who can't get themselves to their treatments with drivers who want to help. According to the American Cancer Society's Racheal Cook, transportation is the biggest barrier patients face.

"Cancer patients are traveling for up to six months," Cook said. "Some go every day for six weeks. They easily could need 30 rides."

Drivers volunteer to help through the program, and after background checks and training, they go online to get matched with a patient. They can choose how much or how little they want to drive.

"You can pick the time you want to drive," Krawczyk said. "The distance from your home to the hospital, it's not a matter of having a fixed schedule."

Patients also register with the American Cancer Society and tell the organization what rides they need. The service is free.

Last year, the program provided 16,000 rides to patients in Michigan, but they were still unable to fulfill some requests.

Cook said there are 75 volunteer drivers throughout Southeast Michigan, but they still need more.

"There is such a need in Southeast Michigan," Cook said. "About 45 percent of our rides go unfulfilled, so 1,600 rides were unfulfilled in 2017."

Cook said patients can always count on Krawczyk.

"Greg is fantastic," Cook said. "Since joining our program in November 2016, he's provided 350 rides to patients in the area."

Wilson started her treatment by relying on family and friends, but she felt like she was too much of a burden. When she found out about Road To Recovery, she tried it, and she hit it off with Krawczyk.

Local 4 tagged along for one of their 20-minute rides to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn. They said they usually talk about weather or sports. They agreed to talk to Local 4 in hopes that it will inspire others to participate in the program.

Wilson said she has three more chemo treatments left, and Krawczyk has already signed up to drive her to those appointments.

If you want to help, you can call the American Cancer Society at 248-663-3400 or sign up online here.

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