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Soaring Numbers Means No Stopping At The Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge Over Christmas

“Where would people be if they didn’t have this facility?”


Christmas is a time of joy but for many, it is also a time made harder by a cancer diagnosis. At the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge in Hamilton, there is no stopping for Christmas or lazy summer days as guests arrive from around the region for their life-saving treatment.

Waikato resident Barbara Crawford is staying at the while being treated for head and neck cancer at Waikato Hospital and says having it as her base means she can focus on her recovery.

“My treatments are five days a week for six weeks. I just feel at ease walking in the door even though I don’t know the journey ahead. The staff make it seamless and it takes the pressure off getting to appointments. The staff have beautiful hearts and nothing is too much trouble.

“I don’t have a big network of support and it’s a lot to ask somebody to do day in, day out for five days a week, with an hour of travel each way.”

Crawford’s cancer started in her saliva glands and has since spread throughout her tongue and adrenal lymph nodes.

“It’s not an easy cancer to get. The treatment, they say, is up there. So during the week, I focus on myself and my treatment. Then at the weekends, I can go home and be a nan.”

Crawford adds that being at the Lodge helps her connect with others on a similar journey and has made her aware of available support.

Lodge manager Henny Swinkels says the festive season can be especially difficult for guests who are going through a gruelling treatment programme while far from their loved ones.

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“This is one of the hardest times of the year for our guests. Thankfully, we have more than 40 volunteers who give up their time to help staff make the Lodge a ‘home away from home’. We also have a regular rota of baking from our volunteers that never fails to bring some festive cheer.”

Earlier this year, increasing demand resulted in the Lodge opening seven days a week. Numbers have since reached an unprecedented high, with more than double the occupancy rate of five years ago.

The Cancer Society Waikato/Bay of Plenty is not directly government-funded and relies on the generosity of donors to keep its doors open all year round.

“Where would people be if they didn’t have this facility? That’s quite a scary question to ask. Not only the emotional side of it but the financial as well” says Crawford.

“I take my hat off to all the ladies and gentlemen who work here or volunteer. They help to make life a bit easier for us. They’re all very caring and it’s from the heart.”

Make a special gift to Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge this Christmas and help bring joy and comfort to people with cancer during the toughest of times. Visit

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