CancerAid teamed up with Airbnb Open Homes this month to support patients in need of accommodation by encouraging champions in the community to open up their homes.
When engaging with the patient community about the Open Homes program, we at CancerAid identified the many challenges people affected by cancer are facing when in need of medical stays.
At CancerAid we always look for more ways to support patients, and it’s a priority that the solutions and resources we get behind remain free to people dealing with this extremely challenging disease. The Open Homes program is what these patients have been looking for.
When community champion and patient advocate Julie Randal (Patient 71) heard about Open Homes, she offered to share her own struggles to bring awareness to the accommodation issues many patients are facing.
This is Julie’s story:
Hi, My name is Julie Randall, but some people know me better as Patient 71. When I was hit with the devastating, debilitating news of a stage 4 terminal cancer diagnosis, life as I knew it was over! My life was replaced with a scary, foggy uncertain future.
There was nothing in Australia at the time to save my life .. so after PROMISING my devastated, teenage daughters; “Mom will not die” my quest for an answer took me halfway around the world and in March 2013 I landed in the US.
There was at the time of my diagnosis a trial for US citizens only, capped at 70 patients. They told me no for three and a half months but I would not let go, I had to keep my promise to my daughters. That’s how I became known to the scientists as Patient 71.
Cancer is not cheap, not by a long shot and by the time I begged my way into that clinical trial in America I was 9 months into my ‘6 months left to live’-diagnosis.
Money was leaking out of our bank account and the fact that I couldn’t work was hurting our finances big time.
The accommodation on offer at the hospital whilst much appreciated was very grim and depressing so my father used his savings and footed the bill for a Hotel until that money ran out as well. The whole experience staying at the hospital whilst looking for affordable accommodation made it tough to deal with my mental health on top of everything else, but at this point, it was my only choice.
Eventually, a couple volunteering at the hospital reached out and offered me refuge by opening up their home. It was a total game-changer. These heroic people from Oregon have now become close friends. They cared for me and treated me like family. Their kind act helped bolster my mental health which in turn gave me the strength to survive. Today, 7 years later I am Cancer free.
Hearing about the launch of the Open Homes Program collaboration with CancerAid and Airbnb Open Homes was like music to my ears. I just love it!
I welcome this much-needed initiative for patients needing life-saving treatment far away from home. It will give them the peace of mind knowing their financial situation is not going to go rapidly downhill due to expensive accommodation.
People need People - We are all in this together. I don’t think there is a more amazing gift you can give mankind than to open your home to a person in need.
Learn more about how you can provide free, temporary housing and a welcoming stay through Airbnb’s Open Homes program by clicking here.