New Non-profit Hosting Benefit to Help Get Patients to Treatment Centers.
By Philip J. Hohle, PhD
Cancer is a tough enemy to fight. Recent statistics from the American Cancer Society show that in the United States, an estimated 125,000 cancer patients needed help with transportation to their treatment appointments in 2017. In Texas alone, the Society provided 2,223 cancer patients with rides, but 16,247 additional requests went unmet.
According to the Patient Advocate Foundation in 2015, 15 percent of all cancer patients reported problems accessing care due to transportation conflicts, and the greater the distance they have to travel, the more likely they will miss or delayed treatment. It is no wonder that the cancer survivor rate is remarkably lower in underserved areas.
Driving Hope of Texas is a new startup that aims to put a dent in those statistics. The non-profit organization is the vision of a veteran professional truck driver Michael Hohle of Moody. “Several years ago, my uncle came down with cancer. I saw the trouble my aunt had in getting him to his treatments. They were from your typical small Texas town, and driving in the big city was quite intimating for her. Because of the situation, going to treatment was as hard on my aunt as it was for my uncle—who never really trusted her driving. I thought, ‘they needed me to do the driving.’” Hohle added, “Ever since then, I’ve been wrestling with how to help people who have to go through the stress of getting to their treatments. After all, just knowing you have cancer is stressful enough.”
The new organization hopes to begin service in the fourth quarter of 2018. However, they will need help in acquiring a van suitable for this kind of non-emergency medical transportation.
Cancer patients returning from treatment are especially vulnerable. Their energy is often sapped, and their immune systems are weakened. With chemotherapy, the patient often becomes sick for a period of time. These conditions make the use of public transportation impractical. At the same time, caregivers driving personal automobiles are less mindful of their riders when they are negotiating congested traffic, unfamiliar routes and the fatigue of long distance driving.
The Driving Hope van will provide an affordable option—safe, comfortable and reliable transportation for patients and their caregivers. One especially notable feature of the van is the onboard bathroom. Patients will not be forced to stop and use the few public restrooms found along the route and expose themselves to conditions that may threaten their weakened immunity.
Driving Hope of Texas will host a Jump Start benefit BBQ and auction on Saturday, May 5 in the community of The Grove. Plates are just $10 and will be available from 5-9 pm. Those wanting to see this organization help cancer patients can visit drivinghopetexas.org to purchase tickets to the benefit. There will be live music and an auction throughout the evening. The benefit will also include the first annual Centex Champion Corn Hole Tournament, limited to just 20 teams. Auction items include Ranger’s baseball tickets, Kenny Chesney concert tickets, homemade crafts, construction services and much more. Visit the website for a complete list.
The community of The Grove is almost the midway point of the first route that will connect several counties roughly along state highway 36 all the way to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The counties of Mills, Brown, Comanche, Hamilton, Coryell, Bell and Milam are scheduled to have pick-up locations. Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple is one of those stops.