BUCKHANNON – One local couple is feeling blessed to have found a connection with Patient Airlift Services, also known as PALS, in their quest to find the best care possible in fighting cancer.
Gary and Inis Evans received life changing news in January of this year when Inis was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She was given a prognosis of no cure, no treatment and no hope. She was given six months to a year to live.
“Nothing they could do here, so we started looking at different places to go. We found a big hospital in Houston, Texas, and so the issue was getting her there,” said Gary Evans.
After several failed attempts at finding air travel they were called two days before Inis’ appointment by PALS who said they could help.
PALS arranges free air transportation services for people in need. PALS volunteer pilots bear all costs of each medical flight, including fuel, oil, landing fees, ramp fees and other expenses. Patients are not responsible for any air transportation costs.
However, patients must arrange for and pay for local ground transportation at both destination and departure locations, unless PALS specifically provides otherwise.
They first flew into Pittsburgh as the service had not yet been established in West Virginia.
PALS first flew into North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport for the first flight to Houston. It was PALS first flight to West Virginia.
On the most recent flight, volunteer pilot Jim Platz flew into Upshur County Regional Airport.
After a few weeks of treatment here in West Virginia, the couple was led to a major hospital in Boston.
“We contacted the airlift service that had graciously provided our flight before and asked if it were possible to help once again,” Gary said. “Their kindness, comfort and consideration certainly were an encouragement in discouraging times.”
Gary said it is good news for people who need help and can’t afford it themselves.
“I can’t believe there are people willing to give so much,” Inis said.
These flights offer people an opportunity get to larger medical facilities that can in turn communicate the results with local health providers.
It is unknown how long Inis will be in Boston for treatment on this trip, but PALS has already agreed to fly her and Gary home to Buckhannon once that treatment is complete.
“Charles Dickens once said in his novel A Tale of Two Cities, it’s the best of times, and the worst of times. Well you know what? In the worst of times, this is the best of times that we can get good news and help lots of times for people who don’t have any help anywhere else and can’t afford to fly,” Gary said.
Jim Platz, the volunteer pilot flying the Evanses, has been flying for 45 years and enjoys his role with PALS.
“If you do your first flight, you see the difference you are making,” Platz said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Platz noted he flies many of the same patients to and from doctor appointments and hospital stays.
“It’s wonderful to see people get better,” Platz said.
For more information on PALS, visit them online at www.PALSflight.org or call them at 1-631-694-7257.