Jim Iverson, Davenport, smiled. He was climbing into his Ford Taurus and it ticked in his mind that this may have been his 600th cancer-driving trip.
Jim just keeps driving along, offering about 10 hopes to the mile as he hits the 75 miles of I-80 pavement on the run between the Quad-Cities and University Hospitals in Iowa City.
Jim is one of those blessed American Cancer Society volunteer Road to Recovery drivers. If a cancer patient has no way to get to the doctor in town or that Oasis of Hope, as Iowa City is known, Jim or a colleague is ready to get behind the wheel.
In all, there are 22 compassionate drivers, just like Jim. So far this year, the 22 have made 648 trips with cancer patients. But Jim Iverson has something of a record with his 600 rides. That means he pays for all the gas and related expenses, for those pickups and deliveries.
His patients are more than pleased.
"OH, MY GOSH, Jim Iverson and all drivers are a blessing,” says Patricia Horton, Bettendorf, a cancer patient for eight years. Jim is one of her regular drivers, back and forth to Iowa City, in her battle with multiple myeloma. They may be three- or four-hour hospital trips or they may extend to seven or eight hours. The driver may stay, or subs fill in wsen necessary.
“All I can say is they’re wonderful. There is no such thing as worrying if I have a ride, or if I’m on time,” says an enthusiastic Horton.
The Cancer Society agrees.
“The good that drivers do is extraordinary,” says Kelly Angell, a coordinator for the organization.
Take for example, Patricia Ragan, who is Quad-City coordinator and a volunteer driver who has made 150 rides with patients. She ensures all rides are matched to a driver.
Iverson drives some patients repeatedly, and says, “We establish a bond with each other.”
THERE ARE TIMES when Iverson will make only one patient run a week. Other periods will find him doing five or six drives a week. A long run is to drive a patient 36 times for prostate treatment. “We really get to know each other,” he says with a little laugh.
“It can be a time of great victory, and the opposite loss. I can drive a child patient to Iowa City one day, and learn that the next day the child has died. You hear a lot about life.”
Iverson learned about driving cancer patients through his High Point Bible Church. “I’m retired from the computer industry and thought, ‘This driving is something I can do. You don’t realize the good, and the satisfaction it gives a driver.”