MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health says more than 260,000 Minnesotans are living with cancer. One in four Minnesotans lose their lives to the disease.

But there’s a unique way to support those in the thick of the battle. Many cancer patients get treatment five days a week, and they are too weak to drive themselves. And family and friends can only help so often.

The local ACS has a remedy, but they need help — and fast.

Susan Mappe is in the middle of a storm in more ways than one. She’s been battling Stage 4 breast and bone cancer for 15 years. But she’s not alone in this battle. Strangers like Sallie Brown of Shoreview are helping navigate the waters.

Brown is a stranger, yet she is also a friend. For the past year she’s been driving Mappe to treatment at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood.

“My heart bursts just knowing that people are willing to do it,” Mappe said.

And Brown is more than willing. She’s been offering rides for 20 years through the ACS’s Road to Recovery program. She says she loves the flexibility of driving whenever you want, and she loves how tangible the volunteer works is.

It is also a program oncology professionals endorse.

“If a patient is unable to get to their treatments or to get to their follow up appointments, then they just don’t have the care that they need to survive and thrive,” said Beth Forristall, a Nurse Navigator at St. John’s Hospital Healtheast Cancer Care Center.

But it’s a program that needs more volunteers. Last year, they had to say no to 1,500 people asking for rides. Mappe is one of the lucky ones.

“They take time out of their day to drive me. All of that is love,” she said.

As of right now, the ACS needs about 50 more volunteers in the Twin Cities area. Click here to learn how to help.

Here Is More Information On The ‘Road to Recovery’ Program:

  • Last year, 140 drivers in the Twin Cities area provided over 2,000 rides. Nationally, this program has nearly 10,000 volunteer drivers.
  • All volunteer drivers must have a current, valid driver’s license; a good driving record; a safe and reliable car; proof of car insurance; be between 18-85 and have regular access to a computer or tablet.
  • The American Cancer Society screens and trains all volunteer drivers directly and coordinates the rides for patients.
  • This program is flexible for the volunteer — no need to commit to a set schedule. Volunteers can choose what rides they will pick up depending on their availability.
  • Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield