I was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (or CML) on April 30, 2004. This diagnosis brought with it an array of worries about my chances of survival, the benefits of various drug therapies, whether we could find a bone marrow match, how my family would handle being away from home, and how we would manage financially.
My story is a happy one. Drug therapies didn't work, but we found that my only sibling was a perfect match for my necessary bone marrow transplant. When I realized that I'd have to live near the Cleveland Clinic for 108 days after my transplant, a nurse told me about the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge. For me and my family, Hope Lodge represents one less worry.
I want to tell you a little bit about my experience with Hope Lodge. It's a residence facility endowed by Cleveland resident Jeannette Silber and sponsored by the American Cancer Society. It is located 10 minutes away from the Clinic and is absolutely free to patient-residents and their caregivers. It is also one of the most beautiful places inside and out that I have ever stayed. It's like a luxury hotel only better. My husband, mother, and friends took turns watching over me, cooking meals in one of the four kitchens, storing our groceries in the huge refrigerators and spacious cupboards, helping ourselves to the daily donations of delicious food, doing laundry in one of the multiple laundry rooms (where even the detergent was provided), and getting me to my doctors appointments that I had just about everyday. Every Wednesday evening, we had a pot luck dinner with the entrée donated to us by an area business or family. And all of the Hope Lodge residents cooked together to contribute their own specialties to the Wednesday-night meal.
Those of us lucky enough to survive our treatments and stay there for three months bonded quickly because we were able to cook, eat, watch television, sing, pray, and sit together. And, of course, we spent a good deal of time supporting one another through our medical care, progress, and setbacks. Because none of us had to worry about the financial picture of staying in Cleveland, we could support one another in the physical and emotional parts of healing.
My family is not alone in knowing that if it had not been for Hope Lodge, we would have probably lost our house. That one less worry: the material support of rooms, bedding, towels, soap, laundry, and cooking facilities made it possible for me to be able to tell you my story. My family and I will always be grateful to the American Cancer Society and Hope Lodge in particular for that one less worry.