In 2023, our National Sponsor Honda donated 10 Honda Odysseys so kind and compassionate people like James can continue to support people affected by cancer.
After his own experience with helping someone impacted by cancer, James now helps people get to their cancer treatments throughout the year and encourages others to volunteer in any way they can.
As a 5-year Wheels of Hope driver, James has done over 750 trips. He’s met many people with unique cancer experiences and cherishes many of the shared moments with his clients. However, looking back, he still vividly remembers his first time learning about cancer – when one of his schoolteachers was diagnosed with leukemia at just 24 years old.
“After that experience, I began to really feel the impact that cancer had on all of us in the community. I remember thinking of it as this mysterious disease that everyone dreaded.”
The impact of the cancer diagnosis on his community made James interested in understanding cancer. He decided to study physiology and immunology in university so he could be a part of the global mission to push cancer research forward. He was even able to work on a research project to study the medication that the head of his department was taking during their own treatments for breast cancer.
But when his father was diagnosed with lung cancer, he was not prepared for the emotional the physical toll it would have on him.
My parents were very old school, so they didn’t want to expose me to what was happening with my father’s health,” says James. “Other than administering his morphine injections, I didn’t completely understand what it meant to be there for someone with cancer, or about the different kinds of supports that people need. These early experiences propelled me to be involved with the Canadian Cancer Society.
Determined to make the experiences of others easier, James got involved with the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Wheels of Hope program in 2018. As a volunteer, he learned about the other challenges that people affected by cancer face and was ready to lend a helping hand.
Wheels of Hope is a crucial program because unfortunately, many people just don’t have the ability to travel to appointments on their own,” says James. “There are physical and financial limitations that prohibit people from driving themselves or taking a taxi. It’s important that donors continue funding these programs and that we keep the fundraising momentum going.
He says that volunteering with Wheels of Hope has given him the opportunity to be a part of other people’s success stories. And being able to see his clients happier and more hopeful is always special.
“When I meet someone who has completed their chemo or radiation treatments and they let me know that things are going well, it feels amazing. One of my favourite memories is when I high-fived a 6-year-old child on his last day of chemo. My clients inspire me and I often feel as though I’ve taken away more from this program than I have given.”
James challenges people to sign up to be a volunteer driver and drive a client once a month. If more people volunteered for a program like this, he says, the world would be a happier place.