TAMPA, Fla. - Fighting cancer is hard. Just ask Dave Nesbit. He's been fighting melanoma for five years. But to fight alone, without his wife at his side would be, to Dave, unthinkable.
“To have her here is everything. She's my life," Nesbit said.
The Melbourne, Florida resident chokes up when asked what The Hope Lodge has given him while he participates in a clinical trial at Moffitt Cancer Center.
“I couldn't imagine thinking about having to travel every day to do this. To stay in a hotel, food and just general expenses-- wear and tear on the car. And you do that five days a week and travel back and forth.”
Room and lodging is free here to cancer patients and their care takers, but The Hope Lodge offers much more.
“One of our services is our transportation program and that is a free service or donated service. Volunteers actually pick up patients that are not able to make it to treatment. The other one is our Look Good, Feel Good program,” said Gloria Giunta with The American Cancer Society.
Giunta, a cancer survivor herself, knows first-hand what it's like to lose your hair, eyebrows and even eye lashes.
“We have wigs of all colors, sizes, lengths, as well as scarves and hats and one of the things our Look Good, Feel Good program does is teach you how to wrap a bandana around you so you look wonderful.”
The Hope Lodge has already served 5,100 people offering 130,184 nights free. It takes over a million dollars a year to keep the doors open and that money is raised during fundraisers like last weekend’s Cattle Carron's Ball at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“We netted over $1.1 million and what were so proud of is that we are very, very good stewards of the money and we brought the event in spending only 16 cents on the dollar. So the donations we received go to our American Cancer Society not toward putting the party on," Giunta said.
The general public can get involved - pennies make dollars - dollars make hundreds - if you'd like to see what you can do to donate to American Cancer Society go to: https://donate.cancer.org/index?campaign=search&gclid=CLL617ei_LwCFTBgMgod0WgA5g