Anyone who has been part of the ordeal of cancer knows the shock, awe and reality can be as devastating as the disease. There is the “This can’t be happening” tide of emotion that initially strikes. Then there is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the journey of tests and treatments up ahead. And before any of this starts, there is the realization that the past life of normal has been totally uprooted by the future of no norm.
For a patient and his or her family who live near a medical center, making the trip to the hospital is wearing, but still they know home and friends are nearby. Think about that person who lives 50 miles away or more. And if they’re seeking a stellar treatment center with the country’s top specialists, they may be coming from hundreds of miles away.
One reality facing the long-distance patient is, “Where can we stay for a possibly prolonged period of time?” And then there are the expenses of such a place. The costs, even with insurance, of the treatments are hard enough to take on, but relocating the patient plus any family members is additionally daunting.
Such challenges should not be on the “gotta handle list” for a person facing cancer.
That is where the beyond-great news comes in.
As part of the Celebrating Women luncheon at the Hilton Anatole Thursday, it will be announced that the American Cancer Society has selected Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas as the site of its newest Hope Lodge.
“The goals of Hope Lodge Dallas are to allow patients to have a comfortable place to stay, to promote recovery by providing a safe and emotionally supportive environment, and to ease the extraordinary financial burden cancer places on families,” said Maria Clark, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society.
The facility, which will be built on a 1.5-acre plot of land donated by Baylor, will provide “free accommodation for 50 patients and their caregivers [on a first-come, first-serve basis] who travel more than 50 miles one-way to Dallas for treatment. The lodge also will serve as the regional headquarters for its founding organization, the American Cancer Society.”
“Baylor and the American Cancer Society have a long-standing relationship,” said John McWhorter, president of Baylor Dallas. “With this new endeavor and collaborative partnership, our goals and vision for the future are in further alignment with one another, and we feel that anything is a possibility.”
Treating more cancer patients than any other North Texas hospital, Baylor has become one of the country’s leading centers for cancer treatment thanks to its facilities and staff like Dr. Alan Miller, chief of oncology and director of the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. Why, in 2011, “more than 6,000 patient encounters with cancer patients who traveled more than 50 miles for their care” took place at Baylor.
“To have a Hope Lodge in the Dallas community can help reduce or eliminate some of those fears for our patients,” Dr. Miller said.
So, when the announcement is made at the luncheon, act surprised, because no one is supposed to know.