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A Simple Drive Provides Critical Support That Can Saves Lives

A Simple Drive Provides Critical Support That Can Saves Lives
This year, an estimated 78,200 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Illinois. What’s often standing between them and lifesaving treatment is transportation. Many patients must schedule daily or weekly appointments for several months and they do not want to burden family or friends who are giving support in other ways.
Volunteers like Alexander Breen of Champaign provide free rides to patients at Carle Cancer Institute Urbana through the American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program. In 2023, Road to Recovery volunteers provided 2,462 rides to cancer patients in Illinois and 101 of those came from Breen.
On Friday, January 26, the American Cancer Society and Carle Cancer Institute Urbana recognized Breen for his support to cancer patients in Champaign County through a first-of-its-kind presentation at Carle Cancer Institute Urbana.
“We thank Mr. Alexander Breen for supporting the mission of the American Cancer Society and for being a valuable member of the community, fulfilling the critical need of cancer patients. Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there,” said Emmanuel Zambrano, associate director, Community Implementation at the American Cancer Society, said.
Carle Cancer Institute Executive Director Nicholas Shreffler said. “Providing access to world-class care is a commitment we make to every patient, and we thank Mr. Breen and the American Cancer Society for partnering with us to help make that happen. The ability to maintain a prescribed treatment plan is the best way to find optimal health outcomes when battling cancer.”
Retired after more than 30 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Breen sought out the volunteer driver role after giving 24 years as a volunteer at Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and the past 10 years as a board member.
“My wife read an editorial in the local paper about the Road to Recovery program needing volunteers.  After investigating the program, it seemed like a great opportunity to again assist people in need in the community, so I signed up and have been a volunteer driver since 2019.  The flexible program has given me the opportunity to directly help others and work to improve our community in Champaign,” Breen said.
A regular rider with Mr. Breen who receives transfusions at Carle Cancer Institute Urbana said, “My life is dependent on him. I feel like he cares. He is very respectful and we talk in the car about gardening and everyday life.”

Road to Recovery volunteers are screened to determine if they are a good fit for the American Cancer Society volunteer program. To learn more about how to change someone’s life by volunteering as little as an hour a week, reach out to the Road to Recovery program and connect with the American Cancer Society at or call 1-800-227-2345.

Categories: Community

Tags: cancer, Carle Cancer Institute, Champaign-Urbana