A CORK organization transporting cancer patients for chemotherapy recorded its busiest day last week amid rising fuel costs.

Cancer Connect in West Cork has been running for 11 years with a total of 34,500 cancer patients benefiting from the service to date.

Last week, a record number of people took advantage of the charity’s transport service, many of them due to the rising cost of transport.

High petrol and diesel costs are also impacting the charity itself, and he is now urging the government to step in and provide financial support.

Cancer Connect manager Helen O’Driscoll said 120 people signed up for the initiative last week alone – a significant increase in their average weekly figure.

Last Monday, a total of 28 people took advantage of the service – the highest daily number in the charity’s history.

“When you look at how busy we are with rising fuel costs, it’s a double whammy,” Ms O’Driscoll said.

“Last Monday we had 28 passengers. I’m even nervous to think of what this day must have cost us.

Big concern for patients

Ms O’Driscoll explained how fuel costs have become a huge concern for cancer patients.

“If someone is going to Cork on a regular basis for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the cost will be huge, so of course they will contact us.

“People who could have driven themselves before would definitely benefit from our service now.

“Before, the majority who traveled with us did so because they did not have access to a car. Today, the cost of transportation has become as much of an issue as availability.

“Some people can have up to 35 radiation therapy sessions and those trips really add up.”

Calls for government support

She calls on the government to step in to provide annual public funding.

“We never want to test and will remain free. It would never be fair for us to charge a passenger for the service.

“At the moment, we receive no government funding and are dependent on donations. It got to a point where people’s bills are higher now. You can’t keep pulling money from your own community when the money isn’t there.

Carpooling is often not an option for the charity.

“We have an eight-seater vehicle, which means we can bring a few for radiotherapy at the same time.

“The problem is that many of our passengers are medically vulnerable, which presents many dangers. If someone is vulnerable, you cannot put them in the same vehicle as another person.

“The last thing we want to do is put money ahead of another person’s health and well-being. They must be healthy enough to travel.

The charity helps cancer patients who are struggling to get to a series of appointments.

It currently has five cars to maintain and supplements diesel and petrol costs for volunteer drivers using their own car.

Cancer Connect in West Cork is currently looking for new volunteer drivers to drive one day a week. Those interested can contact 021 2038525 or email [email protected]