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Lydia House offers a free, safe place to stay for cancer patients amid COVID-19

3/31/2020, News 12 NBC 26 Augusta

With the world facing the risk of COVID-19, many cancer patients across the CSRA are dealing with the risk of both.

But they aren't facing it alone, as one local organization is calming their fears and keeping their hope alive.

The Lydia Project normally offers free services to any women battling cancer, but now they are playing a different role-- trying to protect these immunocompromised women from COVID-19.

Brave volunteers and workers are isolating themselves, taking care of women, like Patricia Richardson, and giving them a safe place to stay amidst this pandemic.

Richardson is fighting leukemia, and that alone is a journey in itself. With the risk of contracting coronavirus, she has isolated herself for her own protection.

"Mom has been isolating herself since last June," Christan, Patricia's daughter said. "She hasn't been able to go to the grocery store. She hasn't been able to spend time with family and friends."

Patricia's lived in the Lydia House for the majority of the past year, getting treatment multiple times a week.

"If we didn't have the Lydia House, I really don't know what we would be doing. Because, we have to be within 30 minutes," Richardson said.

It's a safe place to stay -- as hotels are too risky, and some patients travel from hours away to the Georgia Cancer Center.

"Mainly the immunocompromised, they are at a higher risk of not only getting COVID, but if they do get it the potential consequences are terrible," Dr. Sharad Ghamande, an oncologist at the Georgia Cancer Center, said.

Dr. Ghamande is taking every precaution, delaying unnecessary appointments and using telemedicine.

"The reality is most of cancer care, unfortunately, has to go on because there's a risk of cancer coming back," Dr. Ghamande said.

As COVID-19 spreads, its a scary time for cancer patients. But the Lydia Project eases the burden: meeting their financial needs as the coronavirus is taking away the income from many of these women.

"They're family. They're family," Patricia Richardson said. Her daughter said, "Without them, I mean they help support us, pray for us, anything we need they try to help us with. So, it means the world to us."

For many, it means continuing lifesaving treatment.

Much of the support and assistance at the Lydia House is done by volunteers, and they still need help.

If you want to donate or be a part of serving the patients in need at the Lydia House, visit the website or call 706-736-5467.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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