Did you have to travel for treatment? Get a second opinion? While I know how comforting it is knowing you are getting the best care bills add up. People seem go right to thinking that it is great that you can get the best quality of care but what many forget is that in order to travel you have to take time off of work and you have to pay for a place to stay. Just typing that stresses me out. How the hell does one pay for hotel while being out of work?? UGH! What if I told you there was somewhere you could stay for free are really reduced? You would be so happy I just know it!
Extended Stay America employees asked what they could do to give back to the community. Many suggested your typical donation to various charities which were all great. Then someone came up with the idea that they would give away hotels rooms! Joining forces with American Cancer Society they formed Hotel Keys of Hope. BRILLANT! So Extended Stay America will have given out $150,000 by the end of 2017 to those needing a place to stay. Every time you drop your hotel card into the box Extended Stay will donate $1 up to $1,000,000 to ACS, that is pretty awesome! Donating 40,000 hotel stays at 629 U.S. locations, Extended Stay America helped more than 6,700 patients and their families save nearly $1.2 million associated with traveling for necessary cancer treatments. Awesome-sauce!
At the end of June I had the amazing pleasure of traveling through NYC with some that used this program. The words that they all kept saying was “grateful” “relief”. Can you imagine having the burden of a place to stay while you travel to the city for weekly infusions removed? I got to talk to Bonnie who used the hotel when she got treatment and was worried how she would pay. Kate would stay Monday-Thursday when he would get her weekly injections then go home for the weekend. Wendy, Tosha, Dennis, and Nicole all used the hotel and Hope Lodge in other cities and were excited to check out the NYC one since they used other states. Carolyn and Greg both out of treatment were so happy to get to know others who stayed and connect with them.
When I chatted with them I asked how they found this program because I never heard of it. The people that went to big hospitals like Mass General and Sloane Kettring had their nurse navigator give them the info great but what about the smaller hospitals? How many reading this knew about this? That is what made me crazy. We have all these great resources but I did not find many who used or knew about. Let’s spread the word, it is actually what the hotel wants .
The reunion was planned beyond words by the Zimmerman agency , they were attentive, kind, fun and full of excitement. We traveled through the city in style via the party bus, the guests were so excited to be treated like rock stars. It made them feel amazing and I could tell the agency was proud and honored to be with this group. They were really invested in everyone getting to know one another. And they wanted to hear everyone’s story.
The event started with a fabulous welcome dinner at Son Cubano NJ done family style. We chatted and enjoyed ourselves with smiles all around! The next day we went on a cruise around Manhattan island seeing the Statue of Liberty and all the spectacular NYC sites. So much fun for everyone! That night we went to a celebratory dinner at Glass House Tavern - Theater District Bar and Restaurant - Pre … which was filled with laughs, delicious food and surpirses. We were treated to a visit from Sunny Anderson! She was amazing as you would expect. Then a short walk over to PARAMOUR, a Cirque du Soleil Musical, yup that is right! We were all tired that night and excited. Hopeful the next day would be as amazing as these two. I loved meeting the Bold & Breastless By Shondia McFadden-Sabari in person, she is a fab as you think! I connected immediately with Mona from Cook This…Get Laid | Men, prepare healthy meals for your loved ones. Well who wouldn't with a name like that! I even shared a coconut with HotelExecutive.com Bennedict, delish!
The agency and the hotel along with American Cancer Society did not disappoint. We went over to Hope Lodge for breakfast then the key note by Shannon Miller Lifestyle Health and Fitness for Women. I must say I was a little leary to listen as some celebrities seem to disappoint. First the hotel and ACS speakers went which were very beautiful and real. I heard over and over “the stories and lives here matter”, which made everyone feel so empowered. For every $10 they are donating a bear to the children that come stay, what a great way to welcome them to the hotel. Shannon Miller came on talking about how losing her hair sucked, no BS there. She talked about going into appointments thinking one and coming out with a whole new view and fear. Shannon wants more research and better scan, YES YES PLEASE.
All around I heard “you touched my heart” but not just from those who used the hotel, but the staff and the event planners. Growing up my grandmother would say “Do it from your heart or not at all”, this is the base of this program. It is rare to see so many big organization giving from their heart and honestly it was refreshing. I was truly honored to not only tweet, post and write about this but to see it from everyone’s eyes. I left there with the words I heard over and over. I was grateful and relieved to have this available for me, my friends and anyone else.
I did forget my tiara but hell I still felt like a princess!
To request an ESA Hope Lodge room, cancer patients or their caregivers should call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345