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Hope Lodge: A Home Away From Home for UVM Cancer Patients

August 25, 2023 by Rachel Narkewicz

Radiation Oncologist and UVM Cancer Center clinical investigator, Chris Anker, MD and his wife Alison volunteer to prepare a monthly meal at Hope Lodge.

Hope Lodge in Burlington, VT offers free, temporary accommodations for cancer patients and their families, like UVM Cancer Center patient, Sarah Wardner. Sarah was regularly traveling 2.5 hours from her home in New York to the UVM Medical Center for her medical appointments.

“Before we got down to discussing business related to my tumor, my radiation oncologist, Dr. Anker, wanted to know about my hobbies. We talked about my support network, and he later learned my husband and I were traveling from Tupper Lake, New York and insisted I stay at the Hope Lodge during my treatment,” recalled Sarah. “Admittedly, I had never heard of it.”

A powerful moment.

In addition to the financial savings, patients gain a real sense of community when they stay at the lodge. Beyond a space of peace and rest, free dinner is provided for all guests (Monday through Thursday). Community members, companies, patients, and providers can sign up to ‘take a meal’ to the lodge. Volunteers can drop off takeout or cook onsite in the fully equipped kitchen and dine in with guests.

Dr. Anker along with his wife and two daughters volunteer to make a meal each month and stopped by during Sarah’s stay with shrimp scampi. 

“They did all the prep right in the kitchen at the lodge. I swear they used every pot and pan; I can still remember the smell of garlic and lemon and it just made me feel comforted having a real, home cooked meal,” Sarah said.

“The coolest part was when Dr. Anker sat down for dinner and took off his mask. It was the first time, after all of my appointments, that I got to see my doctor’s face.”

“Treatment is hard enough” said Dr. Anker, “the Hope Lodge is a wonderful resource for patients that makes their care more accessible and helps to reduce the burden of cancer for our patients. My family and I love coming here.”

Senior Manager Angela Putnam says “dinners are such a tangible way to take care of others and they help us create and build community when people need it most. Our guests look forward to seeing the Ankers and all of our amazing volunteers.”

Run by the American Cancer Society, last year Hope Lodge provided 6,321 nights of free lodging to 637 guests (both patients and caregivers), saving families hundreds of dollars on hotel room expenses. If you would like to get involved or need a place to stay, please reach out to American Cancer Society Hope Lodge – Burlington, VT at (802) 658-0649.

Sarah rings the bell at Hope Lodge in Burlington, Vt. Oncologist Chris Anker and his family volunteer to make a meal every month at Hope Lodge. Volunteers busy preparing meals at Hope Lodge in Burlington, Vt.

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