The Freemasons Cancer Car Program on Vancouver Island is being extended to the Cowichan Valley.
In partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Freemasons of B.C. and Yukon offers free van transportation for patients to cancer treatment in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna and Prince George.
It began in 1989 when the Freemasons took on the challenge of supporting the cancer society’s volunteer driver program to assist in the transportation of cancer patients from their home to a treatment facility.
Initially, the program was designed to serve the needs of cancer patients in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, but it was expanded in 1991 to help meet the needs of patients living on Vancouver Island.
Currently, the program on the Island has five vans operating out of Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Campbell River, Courtenay and now Duncan.
The only radiation-treatment centre on Vancouver Island is in Victoria, adjacent to the Royal Jubilee Hospital, to which patients requiring this type of treatment travel from all over the Island.
Passengers must be undergoing cancer treatment and be completely ambulatory to take part in the program.
It’s preferred that passengers have a family member, neighbour or friend drive them to the van’s pick-up places in the area, which are along the Island Highway at Chemainus, Duncan and Mill Bay.
The program differs from the majority of volunteer-driver programs in the province in that all direct expenses are paid for by the Masonic Community Charities Fund, and all volunteers donate their time.
Donations from individuals and community groups are welcome, but are never solicited.
In the Cowichan Valley, patients should contact the van dispatcher at 250-668-5585 in advance for a ride to and from treatment.