Discovering you have a serious illness is never easy, but for Mark Summers the news came with an extra sting in the tail.
Mark, a retired solicitor from Westbury-sub-Mendip, said: “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and found my radiotherapy treatment was taking place at Bristol Royal Infirmary. That’s a one-hour journey, with awkward parking and everything that goes with it.”
Adding to his problems, Mark would have to attend Monday to Friday appointments for seven weeks. The situation looked all but impossible – until the Red Cross’ transport support service stepped in to help.
Mark said: “I can’t praise the Red Cross enough – its volunteers really helped lift a lot of the problems from our shoulders.
“The drivers were superb. There was never a word of complaint when they had to sit waiting in a car park for – in some cases – up to three hours, which must have been an agony for them.
Mark, who is now back in good health, said: “It’s a bit of a stunner to be told you have cancer, but the Red Cross’ support enabled my wife Sue to keep things running and maintain some normality at home, which made the experience at least bearable.”
The Red Cross usually tries to match service users up with a single driver for the duration of their treatment but, due to his large number of appointments, Mark met lots of volunteers – and has nothing but praise for all of them.
He said: “One was a choir master, and there was another chap who’d known my father in Minehead. We talked non-stop – you can really strike up quite a rapport.”
The British Red Cross has a contract with Somerset Primary Care Trust to transport people to Bristol and Taunton hospitals for cancer treatment. The service is provided by a dedicated group of more than 100 volunteers who make around 16,000 journeys annually.