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Feature

An interior shot of the spacious Hope Lodge

Warm and bright spaces, like the kitchen, in the new Hope Lodge create a soothing atmosphere for cancer patients.

Giving hope

The newly opened Hope Lodge gives cancer patients a place to rest

By Kristi Goldade

From M, spring 2008

"We've developed an informal support group," says Lyle. "It's not like a traditional group where you only talk about it. We eat together and talk about our kids, the rest of our lives."

The it is cancer, and Lyle Hendrickx and his wife, Faith, are two of eight residents at the newly opened Hope Lodge on University Avenue, just blocks from the U campus in Minneapolis. More than 2,000 patients a year travel to the Twin Cities for cancer treatment and Hope Lodge, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is a free living space for any adult receiving cancer care.

Residents are allowed one guest and must be able to look after themselves. The lodge is a home away from home where patients and their caregivers can, as Faith says, "let their hair down."

Funded in part by more than $2 million of contributions from the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, the facility sports tall ceilings, kitchens with ample counter space, dining and living rooms, and a library with resources on cancer and the healing process. Many of the appliances were donated by local businesses. Bedrooms are on the residents-only second level.

But more than being a beautiful building, the Hope Lodge is a place for patients and their loved ones to meet others having similar experiences.

"The new Hope Lodge will enable us to expand our cancer care capabilities and, most importantly, ease the burden on patients coming to the University," says Douglas Yee, director of the Cancer Center. "We're glad that we could play a part in making this much needed facility a reality."

Eight paid employees work around the clock to staff the lodge. The rest of the help is volunteers. Colleges Against Cancer (CAC), a student group at the U, answers phones, does laundry, and otherwise keeps the place running.

"I was at a rally," says John Kieffer, co-president of CAC. "We each had a glow-stick. The emcee asked us to crack our stick if we had a parent with cancer, a grandparent, and so on. Soon everyone--1,600 people--was glowing."

CAC also plans Relay for Life, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Last year, it raised $160,000 through mostly small donations from student teams organizing video game tournaments and bake sales.

That kind of commitment helps keep the lodge open. "It's not easy being sick in the United States," says Lyle. "Both emotionally and financially. But living in the Hope Lodge alleviates some of that. It helps you fight cancer better."