Vital People: Vancouver Island Lodge is a home away from home for cancer patients

Vital People: Vancouver Island Lodge is a home away from home for cancer patients

Campbell River resident Quentin Dodd has been undergoing cancer treatment in Victoria for the last few weeks.

“I have cancer in the throat at the bottom of the tongue,” Dodd explains. “They do an impossible six treatments over five days here in Victoria.”

But the rigorous treatment schedule has been made easier because Dodd is staying at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Vancouver Island Lodge, across from Royal Jubilee Hospital.

“Oh, it’s been absolutely amazing!” Dodd says. “They are so solid in their support, they’re endlessly kind and patient and understanding.”

The 21-room lodge, which has welcoming shared spaces and even a wig room, is a home away from home for people going through cancer treatment.

“It’s different than a hotel,” explains Vancouver Island Lodge manager Patti Andrews. “When you come stay with us, all your meals are looked after, and you meet other people that are going through the exact same treatments or at least going through cancer, so you develop that bond and you have a huge support system.”

That support system also includes dedicated volunteers like Phil Blanchard, who had colon cancer eight years ago.

“I have to say the six months of chemo was a bit of a challenge but it followed a really good surgical solution at the beginning so I was fortunate,” Blanchard says.

Blanchard has been a volunteer driver for the last five years, shuttling people to appointments and helping out however he can.

“When I was going through treatment, I found the volunteers really made a big difference to the day,” he says. “It does feel good, there’s a lot of satisfaction knowing you’re contributing to someone feeling better.”

“The volunteers are absolutely unreal!” Dodd adds. “Totally, completely unreal!  They’re always very positive, very polite, very kind and very understanding. They go beyond, they really do. They go a thousand miles beyond.”

The lodge, which is often booked up several weeks or even months in advance, charges a subsidized nightly fee of just $52 — which includes meals and snacks — thanks to the generosity of donors.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” Andrews says. “It is such a rewarding job because you are helping and making a difference in people’s lives that are going through such difficult times. It’s just heartwarming to be able to help in that way.”

As for Dodd, he’s wrapping up his treatment and his prognosis is good.

“In a way, I’m going to miss it because I’ve had such wonderful treatment by everybody here at the lodge!” a smiling Dodd says.

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