Written By Cece Owens
The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program provides lodging for cancer patients and their caregivers. It’s a nurturing community that helps patients access the care they need in a homelike environment. Guest share meals, join in evening activities or relax in their own private room.
Established in 1970, the Charleston, SC Hope Lodge was the first facility in the country for cancer patients and caregivers. The concept came from Margot Freudenberg, an actively involved volunteer until she was 105, the longest-serving American Cancer Society volunteer.
She saw a similar facility while traveling through Australia and New Zealand with President Eisenhower’s People to People Ambassador Program. Today, Hope Lodge are available throughout the United States and Puerto Rico serving patients and caregivers from all over the world.
The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Memphis, which opened in 2010, offers lodging centrally located to area treatment centers. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center donated the land for the three-story facility. Aptly named Harrah’s Hope Lodge as the Caesars Foundation, owners of Harrah’s Entertainment, gifted $2,000,000 as part of their pre-opening capital campaign. Harrah’s founding partnership has continued with annual gifts and sparked a powerful connection with the local Tunica casino employees volunteering more than 500 hours annually.
When choosing where to receive cancer treatment, a patient usually decides to stay close to home, however, that is not always possible. Specialized treatment can be far from home and in the situations where travel is necessary, many encounter the inability to afford those expenses. It can be a barrier for receiving the best possible care in their cancer fight, Memphis is home to many cancer specialist not found anywhere else in Tennessee. Prior to the opening in 2010, patients reported avoiding treatment, traveling extensive miles back and forth from home or sleeping in cars while parked at the treatment centers. Those barriers are broken down by the Harrah’s Hope Lodge with a staff committed to providing a nurturing environment for guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The first floor of Harrah’s Hope Lodge features communal dining, kitchens, library and recreational areas, while the second and third floors have a total of 40 suites for cancer patients and a guest/caregiver. Located at 718 Union Ave. directly east of Sun Studio providing about 70 patients with a comfortable, welcoming home-away-from- home. But most importantly, Harrah’s Hope Lodge provides camaraderie. Friendships are formed as patients and caregivers take comfort in the knowledge that they’re not alone in their fight against cancer.
Support from volunteers and local organizations is critical to the American Cancer Society’s mission of providing free lodging to cancer patients and their caregivers.
Visit www.cancer.org to learn more about how to get involved or donate.