A free service offered to cancer patients is in need of help

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Updated: 3/05 9:55 pm

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – Cancer patients received rides to and from doctors’ appointments by a local non-profit organization may not have rides anymore because the organization is need of help.

The Schenectady Cancer Foundation had to decrease its service recently after one of its drivers could no longer volunteer meaning some cancer patients might not be able to get to their life-saving treatment.

The foundation has been giving underserved cancer patients free rides to and from doctors’ offices since 2011. It’s a service that people have come to rely on, and it’s the only option for some.

Marilyn Fuller was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2013. Her family’s lives were thrown upside down.

“There’s nights where I would be up crying in my bedroom alone because I don’t want them to see that,” she said.

But her family rallied around her, and even shaved off their hair with her.

“But they’re so strong,” Fuller said. “They’re just like ‘Mom, we love you’ and ‘We’re here for you,’ and the support has been amazing.”

Fuller said it’s her family’s support that keeps her going. She also received support through the Schenectady Cancer Foundation.

“To alleviate some of the stress on my family, I was trying to find some place that could pick me up and bring me there, and I wouldn’t have to put all the stress on my family of having to go back-and-forth every day,” she said.

Fuller receives treatment five days a week in Rexford in Saratoga County. She said she received a call from her drive last Friday around 6:30 a.m.

“He wasn’t going to be able to take me to my appointments anymore,” Fuller said. “And I said ‘Well, can you take me today?’, and he said ‘No, I can’t. I’m sorry.’”

Foundation president Thomas Goodman said a very involved volunteer driver had to leave the foundation last week. He said the foundation is forced to limit their trips to stay within Schenectady County to serve as many people as possible.

Goodman said he hopes to restore the service and even expand it.

“I know when he called me that morning, he really felt bad that he wasn’t able to take me,” Fuller said.

Fuller’s family and friends have helped her, but she worries about other patients.

“But there’s a lot of people that use this service that don’t have the support that I have,” she said. “I would hate to think that somebody who needed treatment couldn’t get the treatment because there was nobody to take them.”

Fuller prays for more volunteers to help get people to the treatment they need.

“I just hope that there is other people out there that are willing to step up and help out all these other people that need the support,” she said.

The Schenectady Cancer Foundation also helps educate underserved people about cancer warning signs and what resources are available.

The foundation is hosting a music gala fundraiser at 6 p.m. on April 12 at the Mohawk Golf Club in Schenectady.

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