Luann’s Story (as shared with Kim Maes)

I’ve been managing the houses almost 2 years and have met many guests. I’d like to share with you the story of an amazing lady, Luann Gammell. In speaking to Luann I asked her to tell me in her words about her experience and what she would like me to say for her.

The first thing she said was, “I don’t know what the Hospitality Houses mean to Oak Ridge but they meant everything to me…

“One of the worse things you can ever hear is the word cancer, once you process the fact that you have cancer, then your mind starts whirling with thoughts of the of what’s next, financial burdens,  traveling for treatment, and long term effects.”

It was Dr. Michael Thompson who confirmed to Luann that she did indeed have cancer and talked with her about her treatment plan. The news, as you might imagine was devastating. Luanne lives in Speedwell, an hour and forty-five minutes from Oak Ridge, and only 12 miles from Kentucky. So, when radiation for 6 weeks was ordered, she was in a complete panic, knowing there was no way she could physically or financially make that drive every day for six weeks. She said at that time she thought that the only way she might be able to receive her treatment was to sleep in her car somewhere here in town.

Luann stood in Dr. Thompson’s office wondering if would mean the end – the end of her life. She had tears streaming down her face and was at a complete loss for how she could afford what would likely be life-saving treatment. Dr. Thompson put his arm around her, walked to his office window and pointed across the street.

He said, “You see those houses over there? They are for our patients and we will get you a place to stay. Everything will be ok.”

Dr. Thompson connected Luann with me and we got her room in the CALM house.

Luann said that “home away from home” was really so accurate. The houses were her refuge when she was so very sick. She could go in and close the door and rest and be alone. But when she felt good, she could go to the kitchen, make a meal and visit with other house mates who became good friends. One night they even had a pizza party. It was very comfortable for Luann, who lost her hair in treatment, to be in the House without a wig or a hat because everybody there was in the same boat.

For Luann and many, many others before her, the Hospitality Houses make a life changing difference. Luann and all those she represents are why we are here, why we do what we do and we could NOT do it without you! Thank you for your support of this important mission. Please know your continued support will mean that we are able to provide place of comfort and care for many other in the years to come.

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