AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center—
Stories & Comments
Patriots pitch in at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge
Guests at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston enjoyed a visit from New England Patriots players Patrick Chung, Matthew Slater, and Alex Silvestro on Tuesday evening, Oct. 9, as part of the team's Celebrate Volunteerism initiative. The players teamed up with Lodge guests for a spirited car wash competition, thoroughly cleaning the two vans used to transport guests to treatment at Boston-area medical facilities, followed by a question-and-answer session in the Lodge kitchen.
Chung, who was impressed to learn that the Lodge vans had provided more than 25,000 free rides to treatment for cancer patients, led a cleaning team that included his wife, Cecilia, and two Lodge guests. Slater and Silvestro captained a team of three Lodge guests who cleaned the larger 15-passenger van. A team of Lodge guests inspected the vans, inside and out, pronouncing Chung's team the winners. Coverage of the event is featured on patriots.com.
During the evening, it was announced that David Rosenthal, MD, a longtime Society volunteer leader and with his wife, Judy, a driving force behind the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center, had been selected as the New England Patriots Difference Maker. Accepting the award on Dr. Rosenthal's behalf was his longtime colleague Linda Cannon, a stalwart Pats fan.
Complementary therapy offers guests a helping hand
Michele Portlock found reiki nearly five years ago, performing the healing art on herself to cope with sciatic pains caused by stress. She eventually opened a fulltime reiki practice after it became clear that she preferred helping others heal to her job as an executive assistant. Michele believes that reiki has made her happier and more emotionally balanced, and she embraces opportunities to share this positive energy with others.
So when Michele first heard about the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center from one of its guests, she immediately asked, “Do they have reiki there?” When she discovered that they didn’t, Michele began offering free reiki services to patients and caregivers once a week.
A Reiki Master and Teacher, Michele described reiki as a natural healing experience in which the practitioner uses their body as an energy channel for the recipient, lightly placing their hands upon a person, or keeping the hands raised above the body, so that a positive energy flows. “Reiki is all about mental, physical, and spiritual healing,” Michele said. “It can help manage pain, reduce stress or anxiety, and relieve insomnia.”
Lodge guests and caregivers can book half-hour appointments with Michele every Wednesday, and she always has a waiting list. Guests often want reiki when they are returning from a procedure or preparing for an upcoming treatment. “Most people fall asleep during their sessions, and some have told me that this was the only time they could sleep at all,” Michele said. “It’s really their time to take care of themselves. They wake up with a sense of renewal and peace,” Michele explained. “No one has a bad experience.”
One grateful guest remarked, “After my first session with Michele, I felt so much more relaxed and able to see life with new, clear eyes. The relief and clarity that reiki brings to my life cannot be matched by any other form of healing.” Others have said that without the experience of reiki, they would not have made it through the cancer journey.
Michele feels privileged to be able to volunteer at the Lodge. “I’m humbled by the fact that the guests are opening up to me at such a vulnerable time in their lives,” she said. “Wednesday is my favorite day, because that’s when I go to the Lodge. It’s a wonderful place, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
For this couple, Lodge is like "coming home"
In March 2010, Bobbie Payne was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer that forms in the blood. She and her husband, Ian, were shocked to learn that only three states in the U.S. had hospitals specializing in her cancer. One of them was the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, a long way from their Florida home. While Bobbie was receiving treatment there, the couple learned about the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center.
“It was the answer to all our prayers,” Bobbie said. Although their daughter lived in Boston, she was renting a fifth-floor apartment in a building with no elevator and didn’t have much space for long-term guests. Given that Bobbie would have to undergo chemotherapy and several major surgeries, the Lodge was the ideal option.
Bobbie and Ian couldn’t be more positive about their experience at the Lodge. “There just aren’t words to explain what it has meant to us,” Bobbie said. Ian agreed, saying that going to the Lodge is like “coming home.” The two were able to stay together throughout Bobbie’s treatment, which was essential for her care.
One of Bobbie’s favorite aspects of the Lodge was the community kitchen, which she called the “heart of everything.” She loved spending time there with the other guests, making meals together and chatting. Bobbie described the Lodge as a “nucleus of help and support,” where everyone understands and encourages each other.
“I don’t think I would be alive today if it weren’t for the Lodge,” Bobbie said. Ian echoed her sentiments, saying, “Bobbie is making the recovery that she is partially because of the positive energy that’s there.” Both are sure that the positivity and hope at the Lodge are contagious, contributing to better physical as well as emotional health for its guests.
Bobbie will continue to return to the hospital every three months for the next seven years for checkups, and she hopes to keep coming back to the Lodge. “It takes some of the worry out of this disease – we are so relieved to have it,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without the American Cancer Society.”
Lodge offers comfort, support, and hope during recovery
For Barbra Tugman of Miami, Florida, the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston has been a home away from home for almost nine months, and she couldn’t be more grateful. When Barbra was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2009, she worried about where she would stay during her treatment in Boston. A social worker referred Barbra to the Lodge, and she was thrilled to learn there was an opening available.
Early detection most likely saved Barbra’s life. She had been rigorous about performing breast self-exams, having lost three aunts to breast cancer and her mother and grandmother to ovarian cancer. When she discovered a lump during one of her routine exams, she called her doctor immediately. The day of the biopsy, she says, she just had a feeling that something was wrong. “But I just decided that ‘it is what it is,’ and I tried to stay positive,” she said.
Barbra said everything about her Lodge stay has been amazing, from the drivers who transport her to and from her treatment to the comfortable suites and full kitchen. The sense of community gained from events like weekly movie nights and group dinners has also been invaluable. “It’s amazing to have people to talk to who can relate. Everyone is so positive,” she said. Barbra has formed long-lasting friendships with the other patients at the Lodge as well as the volunteers and staff. “The relationships you make here, you will have for the rest of your life,” Barbra said. While she is proud to say that she has been her own caregiver since day one,
Barbra said that there have been plenty of limitations that have been eased by staying at the Lodge. After two single mastectomies, reconstructive surgery at Brigham and Women’s, and more than five months of chemotherapy at Dana-Farber, she is often unable to stand up on her own, let alone cook or do laundry. The Lodge volunteers have been essential. “When I was too sick from chemo even to walk to the stove, one volunteer made me poached eggs on toast, which my mom used to make for me,” Barbra said. “When I came back from the hospital after my surgery, I felt like I was coming home.”
In addition to the Lodge, Barbra also benefited from other American Cancer Society programs, such as Look Good… Feel Better, where she learned makeup tips during chemotherapy, and Reach to Recovery, which connected her to a breast cancer survivor with whom she continues to keep in touch. Having gone through a similar experience, the survivor was able to help Barbra cope with treatment, and she even suggested foods to eat during chemo to minimize her nausea.
Today Barbra is recovering well from surgery and will soon be finished with her treatment. “None of it would have been possible without the American Cancer Society,” she explained. “I owe my life to the Lodge.”
Optimism and Energy Define Guest Matt Trainham
Barbara and Matt Trainham traveled from Syracuse, New York, for Matt's treatment at MGH.
A sixteen-year survivor of oligodendroglioma, an inoperable brain tumor, Matt Trainham is a source of inspiration to family and friends and to the people he met at Massachusetts General Hospital and the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston. Matt and his wife Barbara who live north of Syracuse, New York, recently spent seven weeks at the Lodge so Matt could participate in a proton beam trial at MGH. “The Hope Lodge was truly a godsend,” Matt said. “Without the Lodge, there is no way I would have been able to do the proton beam treatment. Paying for a hotel for seven weeks was out of the question. I can’t tell you what the Lodge meant to me.
”Proton beam therapy allows doctors to deliver higher doses of radiation to tumors while mostly sparing normal healthy tissue. With a brain tumor, this precision is critical, and for Matt, the results were dramatic. Matt said, “I had been experiencing three to six seizures a day, and by the third day of treatment, the seizures had stopped completely. Now they only come when I am completely exhausted.”
As MGH’s longest oligodendroglioma survivor, Matt frequently talked to other patients about his experience, inspiring them with his optimism, energy, and determination to make a difference for others. He’s had to learn to conserve his energy, but he isn’t one to spend too much time sitting around. He and Barbara were active guests at the Lodge; they pulled guests together for group photos and made copies for everyone to take home; they shopped for and prepared cookouts for departing guests; and they spent their time building friendships with volunteers, staff, and other guests. “I’m a huge sports fan, especially the Yankees, and I found myself in the minority at the Lodge. The Sox fans would give me a hard time about the Yankees, but it was all in good fun. In fact, a group of them presented me with a brand new Red Sox cap as a going away gift. I even wore it around the Lodge that day, prompting many other guests to ask me if I was feeling okay!”
Despite their conflicting baseball loyalties, it is clear that Matt and his friends drew strength from each other. “I know it sounds corny, but we all really loved each other at the Lodge,” Matt explained. “You don’t spend your time worrying about what people do for a living; you just get to know who they are. It was an absolute gift to be there, to spend time with these people. They understand what we’re feeling, what we’re going through. It’s a special place.”
Southern couples find friendship in a northern town
When Mike Coffee and his wife Karen got the news, their emotions ran the gamut from exhilaration to fear. A match had been found, and Mike had just a few days to prepare for a trip to Boston for a stem cell transplant. Even while they celebrated the good news, Mike and Karen worried about the road ahead. They knew they would have to spend at least three or four months in Boston while the doctors monitored Mike’s progress, leaving behind their family, friends, and home in Tennessee.
Cliff Peay and his wife Jean had faced a similar situation just weeks earlier. Although they had a bit more time to prepare for their trip north from Kentucky, they struggled with the same questions: Where will we stay? How will we live? Who will help us find what we need?
Both couples found the answers they needed when they learned they could stay at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston. The Lodge offers cancer patients recovering from stem cell transplants a safe environment, transportation to and from treatment appointments, full kitchen facilities for meal preparation, transportation to local stores for groceries, and a supportive community.
"The staff here do a great job making you feel at home. They're friendly and helpful, and they're really there for you if you need anything," says Mike Coffee. "And it's not just the staff; we call Cliff 'The Mayor' because he is so upbeat and welcomes everyone to the Lodge."
"We're all here together,” says Jean Peay. "We try to help each other, to learn what’s going on with the other guests. We've really gotten to know the other people in our kitchen. The sense of community is the best thing about the Lodge."
For guests like Mike and Cliff, the kitchens are key to their recovery. To prevent infection or illness, all food preparation must be done following strict guidelines. During their stay at the Lodge, Karen and Jean have prepared all their meals and snacks.
Karen and Jean agree that the first few days after leaving the hospital are the most nerve-racking, but note that staying at the Lodge has made everything easier. "It's easier to follow the rules here. There are no distractions and fewer temptations," says Jean.
"The Lodge offers us so much; it’s nice to be able to relax in a quiet room upstairs, but it’s important to come downstairs to socialize. At home our friends don’t really understand what we're dealing with; the mask and the gloves make things awkward, but here we can talk about our problems. People understand what we're going through, but the attitude is always positive and encouraging,"explains Karen Coffee.
After 100 days at the Lodge, Cliff looks forward to spending time outside once he goes home, but "hates to leave my friends here." He and Mike will see the same doctor at Vanderbilt for their follow-up care, and plan to find time to reconnect when they are back home.
Guest & Visitor Comments
Here is what our guests have to say about their experience at the Lodge:
Everyone is friendly and accomodating. All of the activities you support and sponsor for the residents are marvelous. Those kinds of things help to draw the people here together--and for someone who was here alone (without a caregiver) it eases the process of making friends and establishing connections.
- Dan J.
I am so grateful to have stayed here. It is wonderful to be in a warm, homey environment and not have to worry about the added expense of a place to stay. This was more than just a place to stay--this was HOME! Thank you.
- Sarah S.
Staying at the Lodge was very beneficial for me to receive treatment at Dana Farber for my illness. My caregivers had to extra support they needed for my care. Having safe, secure and clean lodging help to lessen the stress dealing with logistics needed for my care. The string quartet concert was very pleasing for entertainment.
- Linda D.
I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this has been. At every turn the Lodge made being here feel like home. I was suspicious of the shared kitchen facility before arriving, but found it enabled me to interact with others if I wished. Since I was here for long enough, those interactions moved past cancer, which was a welcome change. Thank you!
- Amy R.
Reaching AstraZeneca Hope Lodge after our long drive from central Maine was such a pleasure. We were greeted by Chris the evening manager, and were given a tour of the amazing Lodge. Dealing with cancer is so stressful that coming across this oasis in the midst of all the turmoil is a relief and a pleasure. Thank you for being here.
- Eric L.
This has been a blessing at a difficult time. The helpfulness, kindness, and genorosity of the guests and staff has been amazing and we are extremely grateful. Thank you.
- Barbara E.
The staff at the Lodge is excellent. Their caring attitude has help make my stay here special. Everybody is so helpful. The many events that take place at the Lodge are very much appreciated. It has helped us get to socialize and meet many other kind, caring and special people. Having 2 surgeries this year plus the radiation treatments has put me out of work for 5 months. I was very concerned about the living expense here in Boston when I researched places to stay. Being able to stay at such a wonderful place at the Hope Lodge has been a great financial relief given my 5 months out of work. This Lodge is truly a home away from home. I could not imagine having to have stayed in a motel for the past 2 months. I have made many new friends here at the Lodge and the conversations with the other guests has made this stay very pleasant. While I am sad to leave, I am overjoyed my treatments have ended and I can go back to a normal routine.
- Jack T.
Residency at a Hope Lodge facility is a courtesy extended at the sole discretion of American Cancer Society. All individuals who meet the Hope Lodge eligibility requirements will be welcomed regardless of race, creed, citizenship, physical disability, gender, color, ethnic heritage, veteran status, economic status, or sexual orientation. For admissions information, please select a Hope Lodge location.