The information was overwhelming. Donna Eastwood was dealing with the reality of her diagnosis — multiple myeloma, a blood cancer — and all that her extensive regime at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center would entail. The thick packet she sifted through after meeting with her doctor was filled with information about her disease and treatment and the volume was a bit daunting.
Then she turned to the page about lodging.
And there was a moment of relief.
That’s when Donna, who lives 120 miles away in Elmira, discovered Kevin Guest House, alleviating one of the burdens she faced.
“It really helped. It relieved a lot of ‘Where am I going to stay up there? What am I going to do? How am I going to be able to afford it?’ ” Donna said. “When they told me I had to stay up here for two weeks, I was thinking, I can’t afford to stay in a hotel for two weeks! I’d be lucky if I could afford it for one night, you know? I looked at the amenities for each place and actually I think the amenities here were just as long as the amenities at some of the more expensive hotels. So I thought wow, this place really looks good.”
Donna came to Kevin Guest House in early October to have her own stem cells harvested for a future transplant. Her granddaughter, who lives in Minnesota, spent a few days with Donna, but she also found solace in the staff at 782 Ellicott Street.
“It’s really nice that everybody’s so helpful, everybody’s so nice,” Donna said, noting that new resident manager RoseMarie “has sat and talked with me two or three times. Sometimes that’s just what you need. You just need somebody to sit, even if you don’t talk anything about what’s going on with you physically. Just to have somebody to talk to, to just relax and not have to think about what’s going on. Sometimes you just don’t want to talk about it. You want to talk about something else. You kinda just like to hear what’s going right in their life.”
The joy of everyday conversations has helped Donna tap into pockets of strength she didn’t realize she had.
“There were times when I’d wonder how I would react if I ever heard I had cancer,” she said. “I thought for sure I’d just fall apart. But I didn’t. I plan on being around for a long time. This is not going to take me down. I just live day by day and take what today brings. Tomorrow? Well, I’ll deal with that tomorrow.”