Campaign aims to lower costs for cancer patients

Getting the dreaded diagnosis of cancer will cause a lot of different stresses on the patient and their families, especially when traveling to get treatment is the only option.

The Kordyban Lodge was built in 2013 to offer an affordable home away from home for those in the northern region of B.C. while they are undergoing treatment at the BC Cancer Centre for the North in Prince George.

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The goal is to reduce the current nightly cost of staying at the Kordyban Lodge from $54 to $20 during the Peace of Mind campaign.

The Peace River Regional District has already pledged $150,000 over the next three years and with other donations already coming in the campaign has raised $220,000 of the $450,000 goal.

Campaign leader Margaret Jones-Bricker said there have been reports of people choosing not to take treatment because of the financial barrier it would pose to have to travel from their remote communities to stay in Prince George for treatment.

Jones-Bricker said she knows the reduced rate to stay at the lodge will help make the decision to take treatment easier.

Michael Downes, a logger from Vanderhoof, was a guest at the lodge during his treatment for stage 4 naso-pharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, which required 35 radiation treatments and seven chemotherapy sessions.

For Downes, it started with a sore throat he had for quite a while and then one morning while he was in the shower his mouth filled with blood.

Immediately, his daughter Lindsay took him to the hospital and from there Downes was quickly diagnosed and sent to Prince George for treatment.

"It was the most difficult thing I've ever done," he said.

Downes said he stayed at the Kordyban Lodge through his seven weeks of treatment, except for two weekends that he went home.

"Lindsay came to visit me several times and I just can't say enough about the people in here," he said. "They are all such excellent support."

"Every time I came to see him everyone here was so happy," Lindsay said. "Everyone here is just super, super nice and I told my dad that I was happy he was staying at the lodge because they were taking such good care of him. Right from the first day when we came here everybody was so welcoming."

Downes said he quickly formed friendships at his home away from home as people would gather in the common room for hockey games or to play cards.

"You all become family very quickly because you all have this disease in common," hesaid. "It was like having extended family right here and it was fantastic."

Since his recovery from cancer, Downes has moved to Prince George and is looking forward to volunteering at the lodge soon to give back in a meaningful way.

Another aspect of the fundraising campaign is to donate $25 for each daffodil to be planted in the front garden at Kordyban Lodge at 1100 Alward St.

The local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society is looking forward to creating a Field of Dreams filled with newly planted daffodils as a symbol of the Peace of Mind offered to cancer patients in their time of need.

Donations can be made online convio.cancer.ca/goto/peaceofmind or at the Canadian Cancer Society office, located at 1100 Alward St. in the Kordyban Lodge.

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