Relay for Life Helps Patient Lodging Program - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Relay for Life Helps Patient Lodging Program

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BILLINGS -

Relay for Life teams have been fundraising for the last few months and weeks, including KULR-8 during our weekly Cook Out for the Cure. We're just over three weeks away from the Yellowstone County Relay for Life, and Wednesday, we bring to you the story of one program you can help through Relay that affects a cancer patients life.

"We had enough stuff on our mind where it was hard to get just about anything done. And they pretty much took it all off our shoulders," said James Johnston who refers to the American Cancer Society's Patient Lodging Program.

Johnston is a cancer patient at Billings Clinic who lives in Powell, WY. He and his wife have been staying in Billings throughout the last six weeks for Johnston's treatment. Most of his stay has been taken care of financially through the lodging program.

"It provides a huge sense of relief. It's one that they don't have to worry about when they're trying to focus on getting healthy," says Sarah Wendt, Patient Navigator at Billings Clinic for the American Cancer Society.

"I'm very grateful for what they've done and everything. It's really nice to have money being spent that actually goes out and helps individuals where you see where it is doing good," says Johnston. "I really do appreciate all the help we've got in all the steps of it since we've been here."

Nearly ten hotels in Billings participate in the program to offer these rooms for free or at reduced costs throughout the year, but there's always an additional need in the summer.

"It's not just in the winter time, so summer time, we lose money. Because we're going to give a room away for free that we could sell to someone walking in the door. But again, we feel that as a part of this community, it's our obligation," says Shelli Mann, General Manager at Boothill Inn who participates in the program. "It's very important that when they're not at the hospital that they have a place to go where they can relax."

"I think it takes away a huge burden and provides some more stability for their treatment," says Wendt.

Johnston is thankful but explains the process still as difficult. "You're a hundred miles away from your own bed and your own kitchen and your family. And that gets rough. But it is a place to go."

There is always a need for more hotels to participate in the program. To find out more information, call Cindy McGinnis at the American Cancer Society, (406)256-7150.

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