By Danielle Nelson
*This article is posted on The Express Times website.
Jay Impink helps Caroling Latt out of his car’s passengers seat at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Muhlenburg on Friday in Bethlehem. Impink is a volunteer who drives cancer patients to the hospital. (Sue Beyer)
Jay Impink couldn’t stop cancer from claiming the life of his mother and brother.
He couldn’t stop it from afflicting his sister’s brain and lungs.
But the retired teacher from North Whitehall Township can help make life easier for cancer sufferers by driving them to and from appointments.
It’s his way of fighting back against the disease that cast a shadow over his family.
“It makes me feel good that I can help cancer patients,” he said.
Impink volunteers through the American Cancer Society Road to Recovery Program
Operating for over 30 years, the program sends volunteers through Lehigh, Northampton, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming, Susquehanna, Wayne, Pike, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bradford and Monroe counties to shuttle cancer sufferers to appointments.
Impink has taken patients from as far away as Bushkill Township to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township.
The program provides free transportation for cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves to their medical appointments, according to a news release.
Organizers need more volunteers like Impink. They’re short about 50 volunteers, according to Jennifer Washney, mission delivery specialist for the American Cancer Society.
“We continue to need more drivers to help sustain the program,” Washney said.
Impink said some of the patients he’s driven suffer from what he called “chemofog.”
“They usually come out very disoriented and that passes pretty quickly,” Impink said. “You really have to help the patient out to the car at that point and by the time they get home they are in good shape.”
Some suffer nausea and fatigue. Volunteer drivers are briefed about chemotherapy side effects during the orientation process, Washney said.
“The ones who are prone to that usually bring a pail or a basin,” Impink said. “The American Cancer Society usually gives us a cleanup kit.”
Washney said some areas have cancer society-owned vehicles, while many drivers use their own vehicle. Most rides are provided Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drivers can pick their own hours.
Volunteer drivers must be between the ages of 18 and 85, have a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license, good driving record, a reliable vehicle, proof of insurance, complete a background check and driver check and attend a brief orientation program, according to a news release.
If you would like to help, call 570-562-9749 and ask for Jennifer Washney.
“We need more people to step up to the wheel and help,” she said in the news release.
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