On March 29, Methodist Healthcare Ministries announced an $11 million gift to the American Cancer Society to support efforts to develop its first Hope Lodge in South Texas.

MHM officials said the facility will be named the American Cancer Society Methodist Healthcare Ministries Hope Lodge and will be located in San Antonio. ACS officials said a Hope Lodge community provides free, temporary lodging for people with cancer as well as their caregivers when seeking treatment at one of South Texas’ medical centers.

Located near cancer treatment centers in the South Texas Medical Center on Floyd Curl Drive, the planned Hope Lodge facility will offer 40 private guest suites each with a private bath and other homestyle amenities at no cost to the cancer patient and their caregiver, a news release said.

In addition, the facility will feature common living areas, dining rooms, laundry facilities, a library, a recreation room and an outdoor garden. Free transportation to and from local cancer treatment centers will also be included, ACS officials said.

ACS Executive Vice President Jeff Fehlis said his organization is committed to helping provide some semblance of convenience for cancer patients and their caregivers when they travel away from home for treatment.

“This $11 million gift from Methodist Healthcare Ministries is one of the largest single gifts to the Hope Lodge program in its history. And thanks to their generosity, we will soon be able to provide a free ‘home away from home’ for cancer patients, allowing them to focus on what’s most important–getting well,” Fehlis said in a statement.

ACS officials said approximately 9,000 cancer patients travel to San Antonio to receive treatment annually, with many patients and their families spending significant time away from home.

According to the ACS, the nearly 40,000-square-foot Hope Lodge, when fully built, will provide up to 14,600 nights of free lodging each year, representing a savings of more than $2.1 million to cancer patients and their families.

Jaime Wesolowski, Methodist Healthcare System president and CEO, who is also a cancer survivor, said MHS has long tried to help with developing a local permanent, cost-saving retreat for cancer survivors and their caregivers.

“As a cancer survivor myself, I know firsthand how life-changing hearing the word ‘cancer’ can be and how challenging the path is through treatment and recovery. That’s why building a Hope Lodge facility in San Antonio became my top priority as it will become a place where generations to come can find peace, healing and rest amidst a scary season of life,” Wesolowski said in a statement.

Terry McCandless, a person tied to Methodist Healthcare Ministries and who is battling metastatic breast cancer, joined in the announcement, saying it will mean much to the community to have a Hope Lodge.

“Hope Lodge will be a wonderful resource contributed by Methodist Healthcare Ministries and the American Cancer Society to provide significant support to persons from throughout South Texas who struggle with transportation and housing needs as they and their families battle this devastating disease,” McCandless said in a statement.

ACS officials said its capital campaign seeks to raise the funds needed to build the facility, and to support initial operating costs and the creation of an endowment to ensure the facility’s long-term sustainability.