Help builds near U for cancer patients

by Yelena Kibasova

When Lloyd Julien, 71, of New Ulm was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, he and his wife, Ann, 66, prepared for lengthy trips to the Mayo Clinic for treatments.

During their seven-week stay in Rochester, the couple lived rent-free at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge.

“It’s a wonderful place to be… they treat you so nice and it’s just like home,” Lloyd Julien said.

There are 21 Hope Lodges in the United States. The American Cancer Society is once again preparing to pull out the shovels to build a new Hope Lodge in the Twin Cities.

A Hope Lodge is similar to the Ronald McDonald House, but for adults, said Tim Torgerson, American Cancer Society director of capital development.

Cancer patients come to the Twin Cities for regular treatment. The Hope Lodge gives these patients and their caretakers free lodging during their stay.

The American Cancer Society, partnered with the University Cancer Center, plans to build the Hope Lodge in the 2500 block of University Avenue. It will have approximately 40 private rooms and facilities such as an exercise room, laundry room, library and a common dining area.

“We designed the building and the program… for social development around the fact that we want the people out of their rooms and in the common areas,” Torgerson said.

Richard M. Schulze, founder and chairman of Best Buy, announced a challenge grant in May 2005. The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation of Minneapolis offered to match gifts toward the Hope Lodge up to $7.5 million by Dec. 31, 2005.

“Our family has offered this challenge grant to the American Cancer Society as our way of helping cancer patients deal with some of the stress related to this life-threatening disease,” Schulze said in an e-mail to the American Cancer Society.

The new Hope Lodge will receive $5 million for construction and $2.5 million will help renovate the current Hope Lodge in Rochester.

The Rochester Hope Lodge currently has 28 rooms.

“We are always full with a very long waiting list,” said Judy Pearce, Rochester Hope Lodge director. “We will have 60 rooms and that will always be full as well, I have no doubt.”

At the year-end deadline, the American Cancer Society met the $2.5 million goal for the Rochester location and raised nearly $4.5 million for the new Twin Cities location. The American Cancer Society is still accepting donations.

Construction of the new Hope Lodge will begin midsummer 2006 pending fundraising, Torgerson said. The new facility is expected to be open to cancer patients by mid-2007.

Laura Hammer, a nutrition junior and fall semester president of the student group Colleges Against Cancer said she is happy to hear about the new Hope Lodge.

“It’s a great asset to a research university and hospital to have a place where patients can go and their family can go,” Hammer said. “And it’s a supportive environment.”

Lloyd and Ann Julien are pleased to hear that there will be a new Hope Lodge and that the Rochester facility is expanding.