Hope for the Holidays

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Lillian and Darwin Shumway find Hope Lodge to be a home away from home, even during the holidays

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Rochester, NY – December 13, 2012 – As local malls and family kitchens are abuzz with holiday preparation there are some who aren’t thinking about presents, decorations and food. They are far from home while a loved one fights cancer. But there is a place, a “home away from home,” that does its best to keep a loved one close by and restore some sense of normalcy during a time when getting well is the only priority.

Lillian and Darwin Shumway are guests at the American Cancer Society B. Thomas Golisano Hope Lodge Hospitality House in Rochester, NY while Darwin receives cancer treatment. Far from their home in the Adirondacks, they celebrated this past Thanksgiving away from home and will still be in Rochester during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Whether Darwin is inpatient or outpatient, Lillian can be by his side for support and that’s what she finds most important. “I’m thankful to have a safe place to stay that is convenient to the hospital,” said Lillian. The thought of a traditional Thanksgiving meal never came to mind, but Lillian was proud to report that due to the overwhelming generosity of caring volunteers, “We had three Thanksgiving dinners this year.”

When Dawn and Chester Cratsley first came to Rochester, where Chester was diagnosed and treated for cancer, his wife Dawn stayed by his side, night and day, even sleeping in his hospital room. When they learned Chester’s treatment would consist of daily outpatient chemo injections for a week – one week every month – they paused at the thought of what that might cost. “If we had to, we would drive back and forth,” said Dawn, of the daily round trip commute from their Batavia home to the Wilmot Cancer Center. “When you’re retired, on a fixed income and drive an older car, the costs add up. Everyone thinks of co-pays and medications, but gas and wear and tear on your car can really add up.” That’s when they learned about Hope Lodge. Staying at Hope Lodge meant driving would be kept to a minimum. Drive to Rochester on Monday, a few trips to the hospital nearby, and a trip back home on Friday. Treatment appointments have been scheduled for the rest of this year, and thankfully they recently learned they will be home for Christmas, but they will celebrate the New Year at Hope Lodge.

Hope Lodge is where healing begins

When away from home during the holidays, Hope Lodge guests are thankful for daily activities like working on a puzzle, painting ornaments, joining in a tree trimming party, or simply enjoying dinner together. They are small moments to escape and forget about cancer for awhile. “Hope Lodge is where the healing begins,” said Matthew Flanigan, Director of the American Cancer Society B. Thomas Golisano Hope Lodge Hospitality House. “Guests sit down to a spaghetti supper with other guests, then soon they are sharing stories from home, joking, and in some cases forming friendships that will endure long after their stay at Hope Lodge.”

When a guest leaves because treatment is over and they are getting well, staff and other guests feed off the feeling of hope that is generated. A guest may not be feeling well one day, but when they hear another guest announce that treatment has ended and they are going home, all of a sudden there’s hope. “Hey, they got better; I can too.”

31 Hope Lodges in the US, and counting

With 31 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, American Cancer Society Hope Lodges offer adult cancer patients and their caregiver a free, temporary place to stay when their best hope for quality care may be in another city. Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging allows guests to focus on getting well.

Yet Hope Lodge offers so much more than just free lodging. It provides a nurturing, home-like environment where patients and caregivers can retreat to private rooms or connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Hope Lodges also offer a variety of resources and information about cancer and how to fight the disease, including access to American Cancer Society information and services 24 hours a day through 1.800.227.2345 and cancer.org.

American Cancer Society Hope Lodges are a place to ease the burden of cancer treatment – a place where hope has a home. To learn more about Hope Lodge locations across the country, visit cancer.org/hopelodge.

Additional Reading:
Holiday eating tips if you’re in cancer treatment
Cancer during the holidays
Caregivers: how to handle the holidays

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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