By Ann Guerrisi-Hawn, Penn State
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute supported the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge of Central Pennsylvania by participating in the Adopt a Lodge program in October. Although many advances have been made in the treatment of cancer, the cost of hotel stays and mileage to and from the facilities that offer the best options for care can be a serious financial burden. The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge provides patients and their caregivers a “home away from home” when they must travel 40 miles or more to receive treatment for their disease. The Cancer Institute derives great benefit for its patients in having such an excellent facility as a neighbor.
Studies show that the environment Hope Lodge provides increases the likelihood that a patient will comply with their treatment protocols – giving them their best chance to fight their disease.
“When someone gets cancer they could be on their own to fight [it],” said Witold Rybka, professor of medicine and pathology at the Cancer Institute. “But if they look around they will find others in the same situation. [Hope Lodge guests] are mutually supportive … and the experience is another step forward. You really feel the sense of community.”
Guests stay at the Hope Lodge free of charge. It has all the amenities of home – private guest bedrooms; a communal kitchen where guests can cook their dinner, saving them the expense of restaurants and take-out; a dining room where they can eat and share stories with others who are going through the same experience; and a living room where they can relax.
“I have met a huge outpouring of appreciation from those who have used [Hope Lodge],” Rybka said. “Home Away from Home is not a slogan, it’s a reality. It provides not only a place to be, but a source of strength.”