Chances are you personally know someone who’s either survived cancer or lost the battle.
In Hawaii, an estimated 6,850 residents will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Not only does it take a physical and emotional toll, but also a financial one. About a quarter of cancer patients use all or most of their savings.
Neighbor island residents have an extra burden since most have to fly to Oahu and stay for treatment. But now there’s new hope in the fight against cancer.
Mary Williamson lives on Kauai. In 1998, she found out she had Stage 3 lymphoma cancer.
Kauai’s hospital wasn’t equipped with the technology needed, and Williamson was forced to spend seven weeks on Oahu while she underwent radiation treatment.
“I know people that won’t or will think about not doing treatment just because of the cost,” Williamson said.
Luckily her parents live on Oahu, so she had the family support plus a free place to stay.
“I cannot fathom what it’s like to be alone in a hotel room and go through that when you’re sick for weeks on end,” Williamson said.
That’s where the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge Hawaii comes in. It provides adult cancer patients with a place to stay and heal.
“We will have 20 guest rooms, and it is absolutely free. That’s the key piece there. It’s free of charge, and our amazing donors have taken care of that,” said American Cancer Society’s Cathy Alsup, who’s in charge of major gifts.
Located at 251 Vineyard Street in Honolulu, Hope Lodge is getting ready to finally open.
“They have two twin beds for the caregiver and patient, all the comforts of home — Wi-Fi, TV, their own private shower. It’s like a beautiful hotel room,” Alsup said.
Common areas include a kitchen, dining room, library, cancer resource center, and a garden.
While neighbor island residents will be given preference, people who live on Oahu’s North Shore or at the end of the Waianae Coast may also qualify to stay at Hope Lodge.
Patients will be referred by doctors and social workers.
“I wish Hope Lodge had been here earlier of course, but we’ve all been working so hard for 10 years to make it happen,” Williamson said. “Just from the idea stage and to go down and see it now ready to start accepting guests from after Thanksgiving, it’s really a dream come true.”
Hope Lodge Hawaii will have an open house on Saturday, Nov. 19, from noon to 4 p.m. Parking is available at Central Middle School.