There are several reasons why people with cancer and their families may decide to travel to receive medical care. Some, especially in rural areas, may have limited access to oncologists and treatment facilities in their area. Others may travel to consult with a specialist, seek a second opinion on a diagnosis or treatment plan, or undergo a therapy that isn’t widely available. For cancer survivors and their families, finding accommodations can be a challenge. Many facilities offer lodging for free or for a nominal fee. Each temporary lodging program will have its own rules and criteria to qualify for services.
Many hospitals and American Cancer Society offices have agreements with nearby hotels and/or campgrounds for reduced rates for people with cancer and their families. Before traveling, contact the hospital’s social worker or the admitting desk for such information. Also, many of the major cancer centers have outpatient lodging run by the institution.
The following is a partial listing of organizations that provide or coordinate temporary accommodations for people with cancer and their families who must travel for medical care.
American Cancer Society Hope Lodge offers people with cancer and their caregivers a free, temporary place to stay when their best hope for effective treatment may be in another city. Accommodations and eligibility requirements may vary by location. Extended Stay America created the Hotel Keys of Hope program to support the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge program, providing free or deeply discounted rooms so that cancer survivors and their caregivers can get access to potentially lifesaving cancer treatment. To find a Hope Lodge or to learn more about a specific facility, call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org/hopelodge.
Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition is a group of organizations that help people with cancer manage financial challenges. CFAC offers an online database at cancerfac.org that allows users to search for national or local financial assistance by type of assistance needed, such as housing, or by cancer diagnosis.
Healthcare Hospitality Network, Inc. is a nationwide association of nearly 200 organizations that provide free or significantly reduced cost lodging and support services to patients and their families while receiving medical care away from their home communities. Call (800) 542-9730 or visit hhnetwork.org for a directory of members and houses.
Joe’s House, JoesHouse.org, provides a national, centralized list of accommodations that cater to people with cancer, their families, and caregivers when traveling away from home for medical treatment. Lodging options range from hospitality houses to hotels, host family matching programs, apartments, and more. Some lodging facilities listed are free of charge; others offer a discounted rate. Details on each lodging facility are available with information on amenities, rates, reservation methods, and requirements. Those who do not have Internet access may call (877) 563-7468. A representative will provide you with the lodging facilities listed as well as their reservation information.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. In return, families either stay at no cost or are asked to make a donation of up to $25 per day, depending on the house. To find a Ronald McDonald House near you, visit rmhc.org or call (630) 623-7048.
Contact each organization to obtain specific eligibility requirements. In addition, check with your local cancer treatment center, hospital, American Cancer Society office, or other cancer support organization for information about lodging or obtaining financial assistance for lodging for cancer survivors and their families.
This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2018.