During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing Zak’s story. When his tumour returned in February 2020 driving 45 minutes to his hospital chemotherapy appointments was proving to be a real challenge. But Demelza’s Practical Support Volunteers, including Chris stepped in to help.
Chris was one of the volunteers who drove Zak and his daddy to and from every appointment. Caroline, Zak’s mummy said:
“Demelza’s practical support volunteers drove him to every appointment. No longer did we have to worry about finding parking nearby, the money for petrol, or making poor Zak walk to the entrance in the pouring rain. All he wanted to do was hold his daddy’s hand in the back of the car and thanks to Demelza volunteer drivers he was able to.”
Chris, Practical Support Volunteer shares his story
“I started supporting Zak and his family last year. Due to COVID-19 we had to make sure we had a lot more safety protocols in place cleaning the vehicle down, wearing facemasks and having regular COVID-19 tests. Demelza children, like Zak are vulnerable so I wanted to make sure the process was as smooth as possible.
“I think Zak’s family where really reassured by the measures we took and they put a lot of trust in us. Zak was such a bouncy, bubbly boy, but the treatment was really hard on him. There were a couple of times that he was sick while he was travelling with us and his dad was able to be sat next him, taking care of him – not having to be distracted by driving and pulling over. Us driving them to and from appointments takes the worry out of it for the family.
“I really didn’t like being late to pick Zak and his dad up for their appointments. So, I was always 10-15 minutes early. Think they always appreciated this, it meant that they didn’t have the worry or tension about what if he is late and then we’re late to our appointment. I understood how important the appointments were and not something said to us, but I think it is always best to be early.
“He really was a lovely lad, he loved music, was full of smiles and considering the situation was incredibly brave. I was very upset when he died and was able to talk this through with David. It is about all of them as a family, they are such a nice family, parents were lovely, kind and so appreciative of what we did for them.
“I would wait in the car park while they had their appointment, as you didn’t know how long they would be in the hospital. I would take a sandwich and a book with me to keep busy. I would always try and park as close as possible, as you don’t know how ill Zak or anyone we drive will be when they come out of their appointment. I remember on one occasion I moved five times so I could get closer and closer to the entrance.
“To be able to support families in this way is a really nice role to do, Demelza is a nice charity to work with and without exception staff are friendly and appreciative and that makes a huge difference.”
Could you be a practical support volunteer?
We are currently looking for Practical Support Volunteers in Kent, South East London and East Sussex. Please enquire today to find out more about joining our volunteer team.