Jess Burt joined the Cancer Society in December as receptionist for the Hamilton office. By February, she was juggling the front desk with drives to take clients to treatment after New Zealand entered red light settings.
Ministry of Health advice means some volunteers have had to step back from the driving roles they love for now, which has put additional pressure on the charity to continue providing the much-needed, free transport to treatment service.
Losing so many dedicated volunteers, even though temporarily, has been hard says Jess. But the focus has been on ensuring clients in need of safe transport to treatment don’t miss out.
“We’ve had to rely on staff a lot more. But everyone has just pulled together and it’s been great.”
For Jess, the change has been an eye-opener as she picks up clients from their homes to take them to Waikato Hospital.
“It is not always ideal to drive after treatment,” Jess explains. “You may be lethargic or feel unwell. You shouldn’t have to drive in that situation, and that’s why we’ve made sure our services stay running, so people don’t have to worry about getting home.”
Jess adds it has been challenging fitting her usual responsibilities around two or three drives a day, but it’s been rewarding.
“I’ve loved it. I’ve loved having chats with clients and hearing about their journeys. Everyone’s been so understanding. They’ve all been so appreciative and so lovely. Whether they’re stressed, sad or happy, I’ve always had a thank you.
“Because we’re outside the client’s family or medical team, it can relieve some of the pressure by having someone listen - or to sit in silence if they prefer. It’s about having an open ear.”
Jess is now learning the ropes at the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge. From laundry duties to working in the kitchen, Jess says she’s “more than happy to do that until things return to normal” and volunteers are welcomed back.
“I love the fact I can help. Even when it’s in a small way, I still feel that I’m contributing – it’s so rewarding. I feel like it’s selfish almost that I’m getting so much joy out of helping.
“Our services are so important. Now I’ve had this opportunity it will really help me in my position going forward. I really enjoy it.”
About the Transport to Treatment service
Transport to Treatment is a free service for people with cancer who need support to get to treatment. For more information, please contact our office on 0800 22 77 44.
I love the fact I can help. Even when it’s in a small way, I still feel that I’m contributing – it’s so rewarding. I feel like it’s selfish almost that I’m getting so much joy out of helpingJess Burt