October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we spent time with a survivor who raises awareness about the importance of cancer screenings and gets patients on the road to their lifesaving treatments.
Cher Tompkins’ breast cancer diagnoses came in 2014.
“Lying on the table getting the biopsy I said, ‘I’m telling ya this is a false alarm’ and it wasn’t. Getting that call from the doctor was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced. Just that word, ‘cancer,’ it is hard to wrap your head around it.”
“I’m cancer-free… 5 years cancer-free,” she noted. “my scars are practically gone, I’m off my cancer medication a couple of weeks ago, so everything is good.”
Grateful to be a survivor, she helps others who are traveling a similar road.
Cher volunteers for the American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program driving patients to and from cancer treatment.
“I think it makes a difference to the patient when they find out you have cancer,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of cancer. They know that you’ve gone through this, so you understand where they are.”
She doesn’t just pick up and drop off. She stays, she talks, she supports.
“Especially when they are doing radiation.”
She does it because it matters.
“All of the patients have been wonderful, and I always get really close to them. We laugh and we cry,” she said.
“I’ve known her since she was first diagnosed with her breast cancer and I think she is the perfect person to do this because she shows up with a smile on her face,” said Dr. Julia Saylors. “It is comforting when patients see someone who can relate to what they are going through. And on top of that, she has the personality of an angel – she really does.”
Becky Eaddy explains the program is literally driven by the dedication of volunteers like Cher.
“Transportation is one of the biggest roadblocks to patients getting treatment; a lot of these patients have no other way to get to treatment, so a lot of them say these volunteers are angels to them. Some may not go to treatment, finish treatment or start on time,” she explained.
What’s the best part about being a driver, we asked her? “It’s the bond you make with these folks. You just want to put your arm around them.”
If you are interested in becoming a driver for the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, please click here.