Brandon’s new cancer treatment residence is being described as a "refuge from the storm" by a local hospital official.
Brian Schoonbaert, chief operating officer of the Brandon Regional Health Centre, has been a part of the project since its inception. He proudly looked on as the eight-suite, $2.85-million Murray House officially opened its doors on Tuesday.
The facility will serve cancer patients in rural Manitoba as they travel to Brandon for care.
"They are not in a good place with their cancer diagnosis, and they might have already gone through chemotherapy, now they’re into radiation or maybe at the same time, so this is a nice place for them to relax, feel comfortable," Schoonbaert said. "We realize it’s temporary but it really does have to be a home away from home."
A large crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting of the 6,400 square foot facility at 521 Frederick St., just down the block from the Western Manitoba Cancer Centre.
Members of the Waves of Hope dragon boat team, all cancer survivors, donned bright pink T-shirts to take a tour of the facility.
Susan Klyne knows first-hand how much of an impact a local cancer treatment residence will have on patients. Klyne recalled the strain of travelling back and forth to Winnipeg for her own treatment.
"By the time you’re done your seven weeks of therapy … it’s really hard on a person," she said. "It’s hard to be away from friends and family, it really is."
The Brandon Regional Health Centre Foundation’s A Sense of Home campaign launched in September 2011 and was driven completely by public donations. In December 2011, the residence was officially named Murray House after a major donation by the Murray family and their automotive dealerships.
After 14 months of fundraising, the campaign met the fundraising goal of $2.85 million in December 2012 to cover the cost of building the residence, including landscaping, furniture, consulting fees and taxes. The opening had been planned for last summer but was pushed back due to construction delays.
The facility includes a spacious kitchen, living room, library/meeting room and recreation room.
Laurie Murray, A Sense of Home residence building campaign co-chair, spoke to the crowd before snipping the ribbon, alongside Marg MacDonald, chair of Prairie Mountain Health and Gerry Wilson, chair of the Brandon Regional Health Centre board.
"If we can make life even a little bit more manageable for people that are facing the worst of times, we will have accomplished our goal," Murray said.
Murray said the house consists of two types of heroes — the people who bravely face their cancer treatments as well as the individuals, businesses and community groups who got behind the project.
"Their caring and generosity was really overwhelming for all of us."
Murray House will begin housing patients on Monday.
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