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On the road to cancer treatment

Volunteers sought to help get patients to Vancouver



On what was a near perfect afternoon in Whistler Devon Brusse spoke of life like many mothers do; she was confident and had a gleam in her eye whenever conversation turned to her four-year-old son Noah.

As she walked up some stairs into an office the white walls helped highlight her blonde hair and her voice was just as steady as her temperament.

By any standard Brusse looks and talks like a healthy Whistlerite.

But things have not always been this way for her. In July 1999 she was diagnosed with cancer and given a choice that would have decimated even the most even-tempered hockey coach.

Brusse’s choice was: abort the baby or risk a quick death.

Brusse agreed to share her story because her colleague Maureen Daschuk is the President of the Whistler/Pemberton Canadian Cancer Society and she is trying to start a program that would help people such as Brusse.

Daschuk has made funding applications to the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation and the head office of the Canadian Cancer Society for a shuttle service for cancer patients between Pemberton and Vancouver.

The service would cater to cancer patients who must endure treatments such as chemotherapy, which are often harsh and can take more than eight hours to complete.

The CCS agreed Daschuk’s idea was a good one but it has already awarded its 2004 grants and is not in a position to consider further funding until September, which is when all the 2005 programs are accessed.

But Daschuk wants to get the program running as soon as possible and to do so she needs volunteer drivers and sponsors to cover mileage costs.

"I’d need about 25 people on the volunteer list to help do about 50 trips a month," Daschuk said.

"The volunteers would have to go through a short training program just so they know what to expect when they’re driving a cancer patient who’s just had treatment."

Brusse said a "cancer bus" service would be a great help for cancer patients in Pemberton and Whistler because many of them have partners and friends who can’t get time off work.

"I think it (a bus) would have been a lot easier because sometimes when you go down there you just want to come home and don’t want to talk along the way and families are so, you know, ‘are you ok?’, which can be the worst," Brusse said.

"I did (chemotherapy) treatment for a year and a half and it was a pain in the ass having to go up and down the highway every four to six weeks.