When David Clark slips behind the wheel of his Jeep Patriot to help another cancer patient get to the doctor’s office, he’s doing it in memory of his late wife, Ginny.

It’s been four years since she died of multiple myeloma, and Clark has spent that time as a volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.

So far he’s logged about 30,000 miles driving patients to appointments and treatments, the equivalent of crossing the United States 10 times.

He’s not reimbursed for gas, tolls or his time, but the 74-year-old Clark said helping others is reward enough.

“When people say thank you, that’s the payment,” he said. “It’s just what is needed. I have a good retirement and I have the time, so I’m glad to do it.”

Theoretically, Clark is supposed to just give rides to patients in Kennebec County, but he’s volunteered to take patients as far as Boston for treatment. Sometimes there are weeks between rides, and other times he’s driving five days a week.


The people he drives have no other transportation. If not for Clark and other volunteer drivers, they would have to cancel their treatments.

He keeps it upbeat for his passengers, talking while they travel or offering them hard candies or bottled water. He’s driven patients as young as 8 years old.

“I thought that was going to be a hard one, but he was so lively,” Clark recalled. Others, he said, are past 90 and are using walkers and wheelchairs.

“We talk and tell stories, tell about our experiences,” he said. “Some say what type of cancer they have, some don’t. I had one patient who said ‘I’m not much of a talker, but I love to listen.’ The next time I drove him he said, ‘You know, you’re fun to listen to.’ ”

And while Clark finds it rewarding, there are tough moments.

“One thing I find hard is when one of the patients tells me it’s stage 4 (cancer) and it’s throughout (their body),” he said. “Or I have a patient that is doing good, then I’m transporting them again and they say the cancer is back.


“I have gone to too many funerals,” he said.

And then there’s missing Ginny, his wife of 44 years.

“It’s still one day at a time. Every once in a while it tweaks me,” he said. “I will admit, there’s times I go to bed or go to get up and see that empty side. Or I’ll be looking over at that empty seat (in the car) and without thinking about it I’ll say, ‘Well, you aren’t going with me.’ ”

– Noel K. Gallagher

Read all of our profiles of Mainers to be thankful for in 2015.

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