Finding and paying for transportation can be an extreme burden for cancer patients trying to obtain treatment, and for that reason Kate Marmion Rides to Radiation was created after the close of the capital campaign that raised over $5 million to build the Kate Marmion Regional Cancer Medical Center in Uvalde.
This “Saving Lives Close to Home” campaign brought Clear Springs Center for Cancer Care, the first and only radiation therapy practice west of San Antonio, and expanded specialty care for the residents of this region.
Patients typically receive 30 radiation treatments delivered daily over six-weeks. The foundation’s mission is to help alleviate financial burdens for patients associated with traveling to and from their daily treatments in a vast nine-county region.
“It is amazing how something as simple as a van service eases financial and logistical worries and provides patients independence at a time when they are their most vulnerable,” said Sheri Rutledge, foundation executive director. “These are patients that cannot afford to drive to their daily appointments, don’t have access to transportation, or are fatigued, sick and often at risk of infection, making public transportation a risk. Donations fund the operation of two vans that transport them to their treatments in Uvalde.
“We are now in our sixth year of service,” Rutledge added. “Donors have provided 245 patients with transportation. We meet a need that is not duplicated by any other organization in our area and we operate five days a week, 50 weeks out of the year.”
Armandina “Tina” Muñoz is a retired floral designer who lives in Del Rio. She has one son and two grandchildren and used the van service recently. Muñoz presented with chest pain in late April that required her to be airlifted to San Antonio to replace a heart valve. During surgery they discovered that she had a spot on her lung that was determined to be cancerous.
“I just left it all to the man upstairs, you know, prayer is the best medicine,” Muñoz said. “Once I recovered from my heart surgery I started chemotherapy once a week here in Uvalde. Then I needed 30 radiation treatments. My sister-in-law took me to my chemotherapy treatments but it was hard for her to take off from work. When I found out that the van could pick me up it was such a relief. I was able to sleep after I learned of the service. The van has been great and the drivers are courteous and are always on time. There are so many things I would like to say to the donors, please keep on giving to the service; it took a big load off of me.”
Rosa Banuelos grew up in Eagle Pass, has three daughters and is a retired school cafeteria worker. She utilized the van service to take her to 28 radiation treatments for colon cancer.
“The van has been very helpful and I cannot express how good it has been to have,” Banuelos said. “I give thanks to God to be able to use the service; it comes directly to my house to pick me up and takes me to my appointment. I do not drive so I do not own a car and the financial burden would have been too much for me to find a ride and to pay for gas.
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