Cancer Patients are finding the Love and Support they need – Hope Lodge Charleston

20140730_172409When Glen Orwell was told he had 6 weeks to live, his world fell apart. His one final goal became fighting the cancer that was quickly spreading through his body. Diagnosed with extensive stage small cell lung cancer, Glen knew there was no cure. He just wanted more time. Fighting the type of battle he wanted took resources he didn’t have. Uninsured and 3 hours away from the nearest cancer center, he found it difficult to pay the bills and travel back and forth between home and the hospital where he was having daily radiation treatments. One of his providers suggested he ask the Hope Lodge for help.

The Hope Lodge Charleston is one of 31 Lodges in the United States that offers temporary housing to cancer patients who are undergoing therapy away from home. In 1970, it was founded by Margot Freudenberg, a leader in the Charleston medical community and Ambassador with the Eisenhower People to People Program. It was the first Hope Lodge to be established and it set a precedent for other lodges that were later founded across the United States. It provides a second home to those who live 40 miles or more away from their treatment location. The Hope Lodge is a nonprofit organization sponsored by the American Cancer  Society. The donations of individuals keep the lodges operational.

The Hope Lodge Charleston is a campus of four houses on Calhoun Street offering private rooms outfitted with twin beds, linens, cable TV and private restrooms. There is a community kitchen and most every night, volunteers from the community cook and provide meals to the tenants. They also host activities such as bingo nights and book clubs. Tenants can find respite on the porches or enjoy the healing garden as well.

image (3)The Hope Lodge requires that a caregiver also stay with the patient. Glen was joined by his daughter Tina, and they stayed for two weeks during his most intense round of therapy. “When we didn’t have enough money to buy peanut butter sandwiches, having a warm meal every night was wonderful” Tina explained.

The facility also has a library with donated books and computers with resources about various cancers and treatment options. Tina spent much of her down time in the library.  “We found it really empowering to have the resources of the Hope Lodge. We were able to read about his cancer and understand the disease course and prognosis.”

With the help of the Hope Lodge, Glen was able to undergo intensive radiation and chemotherapy that would have otherwise been unavailable to him. He lived for 7 month after his diagnosis, far beyond his estimated 6 weeks. “I truly believe that he had this time and a better quality of life because of the Hope Lodge. Just to know that others care and are willing to help those in need made every day better” said Tina.

The Hope Lodge Charleston is located at 267-273 Calhoun Street and serves the community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information about donating or volunteer opportunities, please contact Kelly Williams at Kelly.williams@cancer.org or visit their website.

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