My 84-year-old dad had been fighting stage 4 lung cancer for about nine months. He was treated for everything from a cold to a lung fungus before the doctors figured out it was lung cancer. My parents were advised by a very competent, local pulmonologist to go to Seattle – University of Washington to have the lung removed. They made the trip to Seattle and were so happy the doctor was able to give our family hope again. The lung was removed in February 2018.
During my parents’ time in Seattle, they stayed in a renovated dormitory provided by the University. It was a three-story building with no elevator. The occupants provided and cooked their own meals in a community kitchen. Unfortunately, the area where the dormitory was located was not in a walking-friendly area and the closest grocery store was over three miles away. For a man with lung cancer, this was very difficult. The only transportation was by shuttle or rental car to the University which was an extra burden on my elderly parents attempting to arrange and pay for. When my dad was released from his surgery, they had to go back to the dormitory in a taxi. My mom requested a first floor room due to not having an elevator and my dad’s recent surgery but unfortunately none were available and they were placed on the second floor. My dad was three days post-lung removal and he had to climb the stairs sitting on his buttocks because of the intense surgery. When dad was finally released, they had a family member drive them back to Great Falls because they were not allowed to fly. The entire process was very stressful but we were very thankful my dad was alive.
Having accessible, patient-friendly lodging during treatment is so vital. Having this available locally would have a great impact on patients traveling just like our family, for treatment in Great Falls. The new proposed Harold & Carmen Poulsen Legacy Housing will be conveniently located just yards away from Clinic Cancer Care as well as the Great Falls Clinic Hospital and less than half a mile drive to a grocery store. The facility will also be patient-friendly with a working elevator and ADA approved rooms for patients and their families. Our travels to Seattle were life-saving but the stress caused by our accommodations and travel requirements made my dad’s recovery that much harder.
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