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A Free "Home Away from Home" for Iowa Cancer Patients

PHOTO: The American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Iowa City provides a free place to stay for those traveling to the area for treatment. Courtesy ACS
PHOTO: The American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Iowa City provides a free place to stay for those traveling to the area for treatment. Courtesy ACS
December 20, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa – For those from across the state who have to travel to Iowa City for cancer treatment, it truly is like a home away from home.

The American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge is a place where out-of-town patients and their caregivers can stay at no charge while receiving treatment.

Elissa Kennedy of Ottumwa just returned home after two months at the lodge, where she says she was treated like family.

"You're welcomed with open arms, and I mean that literally,” she says. “You're given hugs. You're given encouragement. If you need a shoulder to cry on, they're there. It's just a warm, fuzzy feeling."

The Hope Lodge in Iowa City opened in the fall of 2008 and serves around 450 cancer patients each year. It is one of 31 such sites that the American Cancer Society operates nationwide.

Manager Kelly Lamb says having their temporary housing needs met during treatment lets visitors focus on getting better. And for many, it's their only real option.

"A lot of these people could not get their treatment if they didn't have a free place to stay,” she says. “Or they would have to go to smaller hospitals where they don't get the quality of treatment that they get in Iowa City. So, it's very important. It's a matter, really, of life and death for some people. "

Lamb also notes that Hope Lodge depends heavily on volunteers, and its goal is to uplift and support visitors as they're fighting what is often the hardest battle of their lives.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA