Sogol Ashrafian had been volunteering with the American Cancer Society since she was 14, but once she got to college she had to figure out a way to continue her work with the organization with a busy class schedule.

That’s when Ashrafian joined up with Road to Recovery, a program that provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

“In high school I did Relay for Life,” Ashrafian, 22, said. “But at the college level I wanted to get involved in a more direct way. And there are so many programs that are so wonderful. But I chose Road to Recovery because it was the one that I qualified the most for while at UCLA.”

Ashrafian said that, for a college student, the program was a very flexible choice.

“You can do it on all different days of the week so it fits in your schedule. I really liked that because as a college student your classes are so scattered. I really liked that flexibility. That way I could continue doing work with the American Cancer Society while not having a huge time burden.”

Ashrafian said another reason she loved the program so much was the ability to drop patients off at the hospital or their doctor’s office and return when they were done.

“I would sit at Starbucks and study for the three four hours that it would take for their appointment, all the while knowing that I’m helping someone who really needs that ride.”

Graduating from UCLA last June, Ashrafian has been working at different levels for the American Cancer Society since her freshman year of high school when she joined their club at school. She first chose to get involved because of her personal connection to the cancer community.

“My grandmother is an ovarian cancer survivor, and I always grew up knowing what the American Cancer Society was. I grew up hearing cancer a lot. And once I went up to the club and started talking to them more I realized that I hadn’t known as a 14-year-old that I could be doing something to fight this disease that I had been afraid of my whole life.

“Essentially I was drawn in because of my family history, but what keeps me going is it is a community that is so united in hope. Talking about how you are feeling, what you are going through. It’s a very, very empowering community. You really can’t find it anywhere else.”

Ashrafian believes that Road to Recovery helps both the patients and the volunteers.

“I feel like it goes both ways. If you can’t get to your appointment because you are too sick to take public transportation or don’t have the money to take an Uber or Lyft all the time, you get these life saving treatments and see your doctors because of these drivers. It is so, so essential for these patients that shouldn’t have to worry about how they are going to get from point A to point B.

“And for the drivers, they feel grateful for the opportunity to be interacting with those patients and having that conversation with them. It’s a very unique opportunity to have a direct contact with the people you wanna help.”

Ashrafian said that she really loves that Road to Recovery is a program that everyone can participate in.
“If you can drive, you can do it. We have drivers well into their late 60s and 70s. It’s so flexible. It really is a great program.”

jennifer@www.smdp.com