Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 29, 2006

Cancer Society program eases patient's travel burden

10/30/06 — It’s a non-medical procedure that’s been a big stress reducer for 11-year-old Kelsey McClelland and her mother, Brenda Byrd, during Kelsey’s more than three years of treatment for melanoma — a skin cancer.

They’ve used the American Cancer Society’s free Road to Recovery program more than 30 times for trips to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh where Kelsey goes for treatment.

“When we go down (to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh) we have enough to think about,” said Byrd.

The Road to Recovery offers free rides to cancer patients who may be too ill to drive to their doctor’s appointments or treatments; or lack adequate transportation.

“You don’t have to keep your mind on everything — only basic things, the things you have to handle,” said Kesley, a bright-eyed fifth-grader at East End Elementary School, explaining why she likes the service. “I don’t have to miss much of school — that’s what I worry about (missing classes and homework assignments).”

Byrd and her boyfriend, Brian Coon, utilize the program because they have only one vehicle, both of them must work full-time and there are other younger children at their home who need care.

They learned of Road to Recovery in April 2003. Coon’s father had just passed away and they were wondering

how they were going to coordinate getting Kelsey to Pittsburgh for a treatment.

One of Coon’s

aunts suggested they call the American Cancer Society.

“We were reluctant (at first), but it’s been great,” said Byrd.

Often, Kelsey and her mother have Ken Bossard of Saegertown as their volunteer driver. Bossard is one of 16 volunteer drivers in Crawford County.

Bossard has driven the pair on about half of Kelsey’s more than 30 out-of-town trips for treatments. He also drives other patients as well.

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