A Home Away From Home

The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge lives up to its name

For 45 year-old Gale Tickner, who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant to treat lymphoma, the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in New York City (pictured below) has been a home away from home and an indispensable ally in her fight against cancer.

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Originally from Miami, Tickner moved to New York City to undergo treatment soon after being diagnosed with lymphoma. When Tickner’s cancer stopped responding to the initial rounds of treatment, her doctor scheduled a new consultation to escalate her care. For Tickner, increased care also meant larger hospital bills – something she wasn’t sure she could afford.  “My share of the treatment costs are themselves astronomical,” Tickner says, “so there’s no way we could have afforded to live and eat in a city as expensive as New York. If those costs had been on us, I’d be out of luck.” That is when Hope Lodge saved the day.

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Many individuals know of Ronald McDonald houses, which provide housing to children who are undergoing pediatric cancer treatments and their families. The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodges offer similar accommodations to adults at over 30 locations across the United States, with more in development.

The lodges offer hotel-quality quarters with private bathrooms and shared cooking facilities. Volunteer donations of meals and some food items help patients and families defray costs even more, and closets are stocked with free supplies including cleaning products and pots and pans.

All Hope Lodges, says Kristen Solt, American Cancer Society Managing Director of Hope Lodges, have activities for caregivers which “engage family members while they are waiting for patients undergoing treatment and creates opportunities to bond with others who are caring for loved ones, just as they are.”

The best way to describe the atmosphere at the New York City Hope Lodge is serene, which is especially surprising given the fact that the lodge is located close to the hustle and bustle of New York’s Penn Station. However, once inside, the noise of the city drops away and guests are able to focus on what matters most – winning the fight against cancer.

The facility includes 60 private guest rooms, a large lounge with a fireplace and piano, mediation space and a computer resource center. Couples – some husband and wife, others parent and adult child – can be seen strolling toward the kitchen, reading in the library or sitting outside on the terrace above the streets of Manhattan. While patients may travel a little slower, and caregivers a little faster, knowing glances between passersby confirms that everyone is in this together and no one is giving up hope.

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Today, Gale Tickner is finalizing plans for a bone marrow transplant, possibly in New York, or perhaps another city – but she knows that she sadly won’t be returning to Miami just yet. While she’d like to be in her own house, Tickner says that she feels fortunate that the American Cancer Society can provide a home away from home.

 

To learn more about American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge Jerome L. Greene Family Center in New York City, or support this facility, click here. To learn more about the American Cancer Society, click here.

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