Hope Lodge Guests Appear on Nate Berkus Show

Written By:Stacy Simon

"Hope Lodge is my rock in a weary land, my shelter in a time of storm."

Brenda Turner

Brenda Turner sings sweetly, “Hope Lodge is my rock in a weary land, my shelter in a time of storm.” She’s talking about the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in New York City, which she calls her home away from home. She and her husband William lived there on and off for about 6 months while they traveled back and forth from their small hometown of Williamston, NC, for her cancer treatments.

In April, design expert Nate Berkus renovated the New York City Hope Lodge and interviewed the Turners for a June episode of his TV show.  Brenda, now back home in North Carolina, says they agreed to do the show as a way to share their story and inspire others. And it’s already starting. After the taping, one of the camera operators gave his business card to a Hope Lodge employee and volunteered on the spot.

There are currently 31 American Cancer Society Hope Lodge facilities throughout the United States. Each one offers cancer patients and a caregiver a free place to stay when they need to get treated far from home. Just last year, the program helped nearly 50,000 cancer patients and caregivers save more than $19 million in lodging costs.

Help in a Time of Need

Brenda was diagnosed in 2009 with endometrial stromal sarcoma, a rare cancer. Her doctors in North Carolina prescribed chemotherapy and radiation, but when her cancer spread to other parts of her body, they recommended she enter a clinical trial at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. With city parking rates alone costing $200 a day, a long-term stay was a financially daunting prospect.

But the Turners are fighters and they’d stared down cancer before. In 2005, William was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and told he had 6 months to live. After hormone injections and chemotherapy, his PSA levels dropped down to zero before climbing again. He says, “It’s a miracle I’m still here.”

During that time, William began attending meetings of the American Cancer Society’s Man to Man support group, which helps men cope with prostate cancer. And eventually, he became a volunteer, facilitating meetings and speaking to groups at churches and health fairs. William says prostate cancer hits especially hard among African-Americans and he’s committed to helping that population. “Sometimes they will tell you, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ and then they’ll leave you. But if you get their wives or daughters or significant others, they’ll get them to the doctor.”

William’s Man to Man group met at the Hope Lodge in Greenville, so when Brenda needed to go to New York for treatment, he knew where to turn for help. He researched Hope Lodges on the American Cancer Society website, and found the one in New York City.

A Refuge for Patients and Caregivers

Brenda calls the staff and other guests there her “angels” and says they have become like family. She and William stayed in their own private room, but participated in Hope Lodge activities like tea parties, knitting and crocheting, and her favorite, Bingo.

She says Nate Berkus was a “visionary” in designing the new space. To accommodate the needs of guests undergoing cancer treatments, he chose comfortable chairs with high seats that make it easier to get back up. He put up handmade wallpaper decorated with inspirational quotes. And he created a garden refuge from the cement and asphalt of the city.

To learn more about staying or volunteering at a Hope Lodge, visit cancer.org/hopelodge or call 1-800-227-2345.

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Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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