A Baby Geniuses’ Journey into the Fight for Cancer!
Upon arrival at the Patrick F. Taylor Hope Lodge, it was very clear that I underestimated the communal living at the lodge. I had envisioned the Hope Lodge to be a hotel for cancer patients because I often explained to my friends and family that I would work as a ‘concierge’. I was very energized and ready to partake in a managerial-like position – managing room check-ins and check-outs, assisting the transition into the room, and maintaining front desk operations. I was surprised by the emotional integration that stood behind the Hope Lodge staff – a clear remnant of the Hope Lodge family.
The Patrick F. Taylor Hope Lodge is a housing facility that serves cancer patients who travel lengthy distances to receive their treatments. Funded through the American Cancer Society, the lodge does not require any fee for patients or their caregivers. They simply may hold a reservation by bringing a doctor’s/case manager’s referral. Hope Lodge does not have any maximum/minimum nights to stay – the term of their stay is solely based on their recovery from treatments and their progression/digression. Hope Lodges across the nation hope to induce a warm, home environment that will help relieve stress for the patient and caregiver. I became aware of the precise details by which the New Orleans hope lodge perfected this goal – painted walls and comfortably elegant furniture are few of the bedroom assets.
My first meeting with Quian Lewis, the associate director of Patrick F. Taylor Hope Lodge and my soon-to-be internship supervisor, held great promise for the course of my internship. I was instantly aware of her mother-ly relationship to the patients – always keeping her door open and always carrying a cordial conversation with the residents. I remember she greeted me with utter excitement – it was almost as if a young face had never been there to help her out. Quian and I went over the details of the internship – she expressed her expectations, and I expressed the expectations set by Tulane University’s Center for Public Service. Being a very long list, Quian abruptly asked me “What do you want to do during this time, Aerin?” And I responded, “I hope to become close with the patients and be any assistance for the staff that I can be.” She was surprised to hear that I was willing to take on the regular volunteer’s tasks as well as offer more sophisticated services through my position as an intern. I wanted to be one of the most involved workers on the staff, and her eyes lit up as she heard me voice my desires. I drove home that day exhilarated, and quickly called my friends from home to tell them the good news – I love my boss, and I love this place!
Thinking back to that conversation, I almost wish I had a camera rolling to record the musicality of the conversation. Quian’s character and my own already worked so well together – our enthusiasm bounced off of each other to set high expectations! The memory shines in my head, as a brilliant light bursts with unforgettable rays.
Adorned with the nickname ‘baby genius’, I cannot help but love my placement at this site. I feel like I am an integral child of this family. I have met a family of a beautiful 6-year old Neural Blastoma patient named Emma Rose. Her character was so charming, even at such a young age. Emma’s mother conveyed her feelings about the Hope Lodge – how it was the only thing that ‘saved’ her sanity throughout her daughter’s brutal week of clinical experimentation. She remarked that the lodge “offered a place of understanding, where everyone knew of each other’s pain and suffering…without having to feel pity for one another.” No one person stood above another in the community – they were all undergoing the same hurt and pain. Our Hope Lodge united this community through their sickness. Conversations such as this one are undeniably powerful moments in my life that will carry me through my aspiring pediatric oncology career. I am grateful for the many opportunities and emotional learning offered through my internship at the Hope Lodge, which will better prepare me to become an even better physician in the future.
Here are pictures of Mr. Tyler, a patient who often tells new residents how he “wishes to stay at the Lodge forever.” Mr. Tyler and I have become great friends – he’s taught me how to make his famous ‘pecan candy’ recipe already and he has played multiple songs for me on his brand-new guitar. He took these pictures to share with his wife (after raving about me on the phone, she wished to see a picture of me). I will always continue to hear his voice personify the depth of my internship at the Hope Lodge.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com, to further inquire about my internship experience. I also encourage contacting Quian Lewis if you are interested in offering help to the Hope Lodge. You will be able to find her information on the site website: http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/SupportProgramsServices/HopeLodge/NewOrleans/index.