By Ellen Bartyzal
Over 23,000 people across Minnesota are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of these patients often spend weeks or months away from home while undergoing required lifesaving treatment at cancer centers in the Twin Cities area.
While dealing with the stresses of cancer care and treatment, spending time traveling to and from treatment centers can pose an additional struggle for patients and their families.
To help combat this struggle, The Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge® opened its doors in Minneapolis on December 30, 2007.
The Minneapolis facility is the 30th Hope Lodge location nationwide and the 2nd Hope Lodge location in Minnesota. This year, they celebrate their 10th year serving local patients and their caregivers.
Through the Hope Lodge® program the American Cancer Society remains committed to removing barriers to care and improving the quality of life for adult cancer patients and their caregivers.
The program provides lodging facilities that offer a supportive and nurturing environment for patients when their best hope for effective treatment may be away from home.
Volunteers and community organizations donate time and money to the program so patients can use the community lodging and additional services free of cost. In 2016 alone, Hope Lodge served over 1,200 patients who stayed an average of 21 days.
Mary Oys Wiles, Senior Manager of the Hope Lodge, has worked for the facility since it first began in 2007. As a cancer survivor herself, Wiles understands the impact that cancer can have on patients and their families, so she works hard to create a welcoming space for patients to relax and heal.
“We really try to create a sense of community here at Hope Lodge,” she said. “We call it the home away from home and that’s really exactly what happens at a Hope Lodge. Around here we like to say we are the extended family that no one wants to have, and it really is that.”
Reflecting back on the last ten years, Wiles says she is most proud seeing recurrent patients at the Hope Lodge who continue surviving their cancer diagnosis.
“About 40% of our Hope Lodge guests are repeat guests, so they come back for follow up appointments and follow up treatments,” she said. “Survivorship is growing for cancer patients across the country and we are seeing that at Hope Lodge. We’re seeing the success of people coming back for follow up treatments and surviving the cancer—that’s been very nice to see.”
What facilities does Hope Lodge offer?
The Minneapolis Hope Lodge community fosters a home-like environment ensuring comfort and hospitality.
“We want the Hope Lodge to be a beautiful, quiet, reflective place for our patients to come after cancer treatment,” Wiles said.
The facility offers 42 private rooms for the comfort of its guests equipped with two beds, a bathroom, a telephone and internet access. It also includes six fully equipped kitchens where guests prepare their own meals, a community dining room, four television lounges, a library, a meditation/chapel room, a fitness room, a game room, on-site laundry facilities and outdoor patios.
In addition to the living facilities, the Hope Lodge offers a variety of cancer programs and services that provide information, resources and support to ease the cancer journey for patients. They also provide community engagement activities including bingo and game nights, occasional meals served by local organizations and evenings with musical entertainment.
Who can stay at the Minneapolis Hope Lodge?
Hope Lodge serves an adult cancer patient population. Adult cancer patients and one adult caregiver are eligible to stay at Hope Lodge under the facility’s conditions.
Any patient traveling 40 miles or more for treatment in the Twin Cities is eligible to stay at the Hope Lodge facility with a referral from their health care provider.
The lodge has offered free lodging to many patients from Minnesota Oncology’s clinics including the St. Paul Cancer Center and Minneapolis, Edina and Maplewood clinics. Though patients from these sites most frequently utilize the community lodging, patients from any clinic are welcome to stay at the facility.
Experiences of our patients
Our patients who experienced the comfort and hospitality at the Hope Lodge have expressed their gratitude for the staff and resources available at the facility.
One patient, Denis Kascht from St. Cloud, MN, stayed at the lodge in March 2016 while receiving chemotherapy treatment for leukemia at Minnesota Oncology’s Edina clinic.
“Initially, I was faced with the challenge of the unknown,” Denis said. “How would my wife and I make the long drive to and from therapy? Thankfully, staff at Minnesota Oncology in Edina told us about the Minneapolis Hope Lodge…which has been a great stress reliever for us. Everyone at the Hope Lodge is so friendly and it’s been very encouraging to realize that we are not alone in this fight.”
Another guest expressed gratitude toward the Hope Lodge for the ability to save money previously used for hotel expenses to use toward their treatment. Many others also commented on the facility’s easy access to nearby healthcare facilities, their compassionate, friendly and professional staff, and the cleanliness, comfort and convenience of all areas in the facility.
“Hope Lodge has been a very wonderful part of the healing process,” said one patient from Cloquet, MN. “It is just as important to heal mentally as physically and all the people at the Hope Lodge do just that. Their kind words of encouragement and hope are an uplift to EVERY day! There are angels among us, and I truly believe that some of them are residing at the Hope Lodge.”
Request a stay at Hope Lodge
Ask your health care provider at Minnesota Oncology about a referral for lodging opportunities at The Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge® in Minneapolis.