ChemoCars service gives free rides -- and a fighting chance -- to cancer patients

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A stranger gave Patricia Curry the lift she needed, in more ways than one. The 58-year-old was on her way to treatment for stage 3 breast cancer.

"When you're going through this, you need to try and think positive," she said. "I've cried many days just thanking God, you know, because they was right on time, you know."

She's talking about ChemoCars, a service in metro Charlotte offering free rides to cancer patients getting treatment. It's Zach Bolster's brainchild and passion.

Patricia Curry, left, gets rides to treatment, thanks to ChemoCars CBS News

"Cancer can be scary and feel uncontrollable," Bolster said. "We want to take this one piece of the process, transportation, and make it simple so they can focus on what matters most, getting better."

Bolster's mother, Gloria, had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He quit his job on Wall Street and moved to Charlotte to drive her to doctors appointments and chemo sessions. Bolster noticed that many patients, often older and lower-income, missed treatments because they had no reliable ride.  

"It was heartbreaking and unfair to see that some people didn't have the exact same shot at beating cancer as others," Bolster said.

Zach Bolster started ChemoCars after seeing that some patients didn't have rides to treatment CBS News

In December 2016, Bolster's mother died. Bolster launched ChemoCars, which coordinates with Uber and Lyft. Donors pay for the rides.

In a room of chemotherapy patients, Patricia Curry is finishing a year of treatment.  

"I'm praying that it'll help a whole lot of other people, you know, get there and back and relief for family," Curry said.

Since last March, ChemoCars has provided more than 2,000 rides.

"Everyone who calls ChemoCars is actually calling my mom's old cell phone number," Bolster said. "So she kind of lives on with every ride."

Bolster filled a gap in cancer care -- with kindness.     

For more information about ChemoCars, head to their website. Learn about donating to the organization here.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.