Hotels open doors for area cancer patients
A diagnosis of cancer is usually one of the most traumatic events in a person’s life. It is always something that happens to “someone else,” and rarely is anyone prepared for the physical, emotional and financial impact of those three words: “You have cancer.”
“When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they are immediately faced with a myriad of questions and concerns,” says Sue Jordahl, Volunteer Services Manager for the American Cancer Society. “They have to meet with their medical team and decide which course of treatment is best for them; they have to consider how the news will affect their family; and then there is the cost. That’s when the American Cancer Society’s Patient Lodging Program can be a blessing to those who will have to travel overnight to their treatments.”
The Patient Lodging Program is designed to offer patients and their caregivers free rooms while they are undergoing their cancer treatments.
“Thanks to the Yellowstone Lodging Association, cancer patients have one less concern while they’re taking their treatments in our area,” says Jordahl. “Currently, there are 11 hotels in Billings participating in the program. This is just one of the many ways these properties continue to give back to their community.”
Under the Patient Lodging Program, the hotels agree to offer rooms on a space-available basis. When patients schedule their treatments, they contact the American Cancer Society, which, in turn, reserves a room for them.
“The program is designed for patients who must travel at least 50 miles, don’t have friends or family members to stay with during this time, and for whom it would be a financial hardship to have to rent a hotel room for the duration of their treatments,” says Jordahl. “Without this program there are some patients who literally wouldn’t be able to make it to their cancer treatments.”
For the fiscal year that ended in August, the Billings hotels provided 319 rooms to 56 patients from 44 communities in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota.
Jordahl points out that while the hotels offer free lodging, many go out of their way to make the patients’ visits less stressful.
"Chemotherapy and radiation are very potent and they can take a lot out of a person,” says Jordahl. “Our hotels realize that and many go that extra mile to make their lives just a little easier.”
Jordahl explains that many shuttle the patients to and from their treatments, while others occasionally comp their meals.
“I heard of one hotel that had been providing a room to a patient off and on for a number of weeks,” Jordahl says. “Recognizing she wasn’t doing too well, they took it upon themselves to book her into the finest suite. You know that had to brighten her day.”
For more information about the Patient Lodging Program, contact the American Cancer Society toll-free at 1-800-ACS-2345.