I'm A Survivor - Finola's Story

31 May 2024

Driving Hope: How Volunteer Drivers Empower Cancer Patients. 

Hi. My name is Finola Dempsey. In August 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy and immunotherapy, twelve months later, life was getting back to normal. I was getting used to life post-cancer treatment.

It was during my treatment that I became aware of and made use of the Volunteer Driver Service offered by the Irish Cancer Society. A nurse on the chemotherapy ward asked if I would like to link in with the service. She made the initial contact and I then registered with the service. Each time I got my appointment, I would ring them and give them the details - date, time and location for pick up. A few days later, I would get a text or call from the driver, saying ‘Hi, this is John. I'll see you on Monday at 8am. I was dropped off and collected at the hospital door.

Having this service available took away so much stress for me. It gave me independence and allowed me to take some control of the situation. I was conscious that I would need to ask family members to drive me to my chemotherapy appointments, the majority of which were weekly. I did not want them to have to take more time off work, which I knew they would if I asked. I preferred having their support for other appointments such as scans and results.

Using the service meant I wasn’t thinking about who can I ask this week - it made life so much easier. If appointments ran over, which could easily happen, I knew the driver was there until I contacted them to say I was ready to go home. Each time I requested a driver, I was lucky enough to get one. They were always friendly and would chat if you wanted to chat or let you rest if you wanted to rest. They even put the air con on for me in winter (if you know, you know).

This service can make such a difference to those who don’t have a support network around them. It also eases the financial burden on individuals and families. The generosity of those who volunteer and give up their time to be a part of this service has such a positive impact on the lives of those who need it. I say a huge thank you to those individuals, I hope they realise the value of what they do. I would urge people to link in with the service, even if you don’t need it for every appointment, the option is there for you. I would also encourage people to think about becoming a volunteer driver - don’t underestimate the difference you can make. 

So why do I Relay? Last year was my first time taking part in Relay for Life and what an experience it was to be part of a community with the same goal in mind. Our team, Nellie’s Warriors, relayed in memory of a wonderful lady. We laughed, we cried, we sang, we chatted to strangers as we walked the track, and most of all we had fun while supporting such a worthy cause. I am grateful to be able to put on my purple t-shirt again this year to relay, to celebrate life, to remember those special people I have lost to cancer and to raise vital funds for research and to keep services such as the Volunteer Driver Service going.

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