OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The building might have the look of a small hotel, but guests like Shagah Zakerian know differently.
As a cancer patient who had to travel and stay far from home while undergoing treatment a few years ago, she often wished for a place like the Hope Lodge.
She recalls, “I was in a random apartment building with people who were often noisy at night and did really have much care or attention for what I was experiencing.”
The American Cancer Society started building Hope Lodges back in 1970 for adult cancer patients and their families to stay free of charge for as long as their treatment lasted.
Dr. Arif Kamal is an oncologist who also works with the ACS to open Hope Lodges.
He insists, “the leading barrier to high quality cancer care is access to lodging.”
There are 31 now including the newest one in Oklahoma City, all of them sorely needed.
“They are designed to be a home away from home,” he continues. “They are more than just rooms for people to stay in. They are centers for people to get to know each other.”
As donors, doctors, and support staff gathered to admire the facilities, remarkable and personal stories surfaced from many of them whose lives were touched in some way by the hardships created by travel and lodging costs not covered by insurance.
Chad Richison, who donated the last $5 million to complete the OKC Hope Lodge which now bears his name, remembers his own longing for home after serious abdominal surgery in 2007.
He told the audience, “I remember wanting to be home, wanting to be with loved ones, and wanting to breath the air of Oklahoma.”
There are 34 guest suites at this lodge and amenities include a big kitchen, communal areas, and laundry.
Lodges are designed for both home life and for developing a strong sense of community among patients and their families.
Planners expect waiting lists for access within a month of completion.
The American Cancer Society helped cut the ribbon for this Hope Lodge. Members of the audience each rang their own bell, which usually signifies the successful end to cancer treatments.
This ringing signified the best kind of outcome for many future patients in the OKC metro.
For more information on the new Chad Richison Hope Lodge go to cancer.org.
Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union