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Local charity providing free rides for Mount Forest cancer patients

In addition to their ride services, the charity recently donated $100,000 to the Palmerston District Hospital Foundation for their MRI campaign
Volunteers from the Cancer Patient Services Corporation present a check for $100,000 to the Palmerston District Hospital Foundation.

MOUNT FOREST – A local charity is helping cancer patients on their treatment journey one drive at a time. 

Fully funded through donations and various fundraising projects, the Cancer Patient Services Corporation (CPSC) is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to providing free transportation, emotional support and other services to "benefit the lives" of cancer patients in and around Mount Forest. 

"Our focus is certainly about supporting clients on their cancer journey," said group president Maureen Dineen. "We just want them to know that we're here and all they have to do is ask for help."

Created in 2008, the CPSC started after several residents decided they weren't happy with the idea of centralizing transportation services to Hamilton, as was being suggested by Cancer Care Ontario at the time because there was already a network in town and the group wanted to "stay with that format." 

The group currently funds a Cancer Care coordinator position on the Mount Forest Family Health team to connect clients to support. 

"(When you have cancer) need someone that can do that drive for you just because you have other things on your mind," said Dineen. "A lot of the time when a client is going down for chemotherapy or to see a doctor, it's difficult doing that drive home alone." 

Calling CPSC something for local patients to "fall back on," Dineen said the ride service often serves as a tool for clients who don't have family or a support network in town.

"There are so many people in town (that) have moved out of the city, because ... they could buy a house (in Mount Forest) and put money in the bank but their family isn't always close and so this is a catch-all that they can rely on," said Dineen. "It's basically a safety net for cancer patients." 

Typically driving more than 12,000 kilometres a month anywhere from Hamilton, Toronto, London and other smaller city centres, Dineen said the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener is the top destination for the group's 15 drivers. 

CPSC helped 23 clients with just shy of 50 rides last month. 

"Cancer doesn't pick and choose when it's going to arrive so we're busy most of the time," said Dineen. "Things have changed a bit since the pandemic ... but it seems to be back in full swing where clients are being seen more in-house again rather than virtually, which is a huge thing for cancer patients." 

Raising "well over" $1,000,000 over the last 15 years through the Mount Forest Thrift Store, the group also runs various fundraising campaigns in addition to its ride service including their drive-thru pansy campaign in April and golf tournament in July. 

Most recently, CPSC donated $100,000 to the Palmerston District Hospital Foundation's magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) service campaign, which hopes to raise $8,000,000 by 2026, as Mount Forest residents currently have to travel to Guelph, Stratford, Owen Sound or Kitchener for an MRI. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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