Letter: Rotary Lodge makes tough situation bearable

I have come to appreciate the gift that the lodge represents for those running out of options…

To the editor:

Earlier this year, the results of my prostate biopsy demanded immediate medical action. With prostate cancer, the greatest danger is having the cancer spread outside the prostate, and mine was poised to do that. My dad was unaware of his prostate cancer until it had metastasized—too late. I needed to act quickly. Chances are, he passed it on to me. Thanks, Dad.

My radiation oncologist, a brilliant and well-loved doctor, recommended hormone therapy, seedless brachytherapy and a course of radiation therapy, to be administered in Kelowna at the Cancer Clinic attached to the Kelowna General Hospital. Suddenly, I was looking at spending more than five weeks in Kelowna. The expense and logistics of staying at a motel and travelling back and forth for weeks during treatment was tough to contemplate. Then I discovered the Southern Interior Rotary Lodge, cheek-by-jowl to the Cancer Clinic at KGH, a hundred convenient yards from door to door.

Like me, most people appear at the lodge alone, separated from their homes, spouses and friends, with few others aware of what they are going through during the weeks they undergo treatment. For prostate patients, my cohort, it means five to six weeks away, with home on weekends, if they can swing it.

Most lodgers I talked to were driving four and five hours to get to the lodge; I felt fortunate to have less than a two-hour drive. To be in the company of those going through the same challenges was a rich benefit I had not anticipated.

I have come to appreciate the gift that the lodge represents for those running out of options, with some literally running out of life. To have all your daily needs met in one place, a caring, convenient place that understands the private struggles each person is going through, is priceless.

In the last year, the Southern Interior Rotary Lodge (SIRL) logged over 11,000 nights booked by cancer patients from most parts of the province. The majority of the patients (84 per cent) travelled from six districts—the Thompson-Nicola (Kamloops and area), Central Kootenay, East Kootenay, Columbia Shushwap, Okanagan Similkameen and the Cariboo. This is a gift to our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the province. If you are a cancer patient, all roads lead to Kelowna.

The Southern Interior Rotary Lodge is more than a cozy motel with all the trimmings. It’s a sanctuary for you and your loved ones when the chips are down. The volunteers, attending nurses and staff all go the extra mile to help out the temporary residents.

The lodge has a fundraising campaign on right now. There are few charities you could donate to that have a better chance of impacting your life and those you love as much as the SIR Lodge in Kelowna. Go to cancer.ca/takeastand (1-800-403-8222) and underwrite one or more night’s stay for a cancer lodger. This keeps the costs down for cancer patients to a reasonable $50 a day. For qualifying clients, the fee is covered through the society’s Financial Support Program. Included are three healthy meals, free parking and a two-minute walk to the cancer clinic for treatments. It is also a two-minute walk to the waterfront park and beach, another healing place.

Few of us are lucky enough not to be touched by that villain, cancer. For myself, I had a father who was a dead man walking before he knew it, a younger sister lost to colon cancer, aunts and uncles and grandparents gone before their time–the list goes on. Think of your own list.

Take the One Night Stand challenge and become a valued link in the chain of compassionate links that makes the Kelowna Cancer Lodge such a blessing–our Okanagan sanctuary.

The Canadian Cancer Society is holding an open house and fundraising event at the Southern Interior Rotary Lodge in Kelowna this Friday, Dec. 11, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. All good folk are welcome.

David Yanor, Osoyoos