Bio: Kranz Family (Pays it Forward - Dec 2014)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Kranz, Specht

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 1/07/2015

News: Kranz Family (Pays it Forward - December 2014)

Kranz Family pays it forward for Hope Lodge

By Todd Schmidt

The Kranz family of Neillsville recently pulled together its second annual American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Food and Supply Drive as a pay it forward contribution to support the unique non-medical facility located at 611 W Doege Street in Marshfield.

Michelle was a resident at Hope Lodge five different times in the past two years as she battled acute myeloid leukemia (AML). She was diagnosed with cancer in October 2012.

Many giving people in the community, including Michelle’s School District of Neillsville family, her husband Joe’s OEM Manufacturing family, her mother’s Hansen’s IGA family and other friends of the family, contributed items for the drive to benefit Hope Lodge.

The Kranz family delivered the early Christmas collection to Hope Lodge Dec. 15. They also made supper for the residents that evening.

“Our family felt what it’s like to be in the shoes of the many families making use of Hope Lodge,” Michelle said Friday. “Through my eyes, being a resident of Hope Lodge, you feel the outpouring of various contributions, the heartfelt conversations and the link to others going through cancer at the very same time. Many of the residents are going through different stages, types and treatments, but you connect with people on a totally different level. To be able to stay free-of-charge at such a beautiful facility and having various people and groups providing for you at the lowest point in your life is a feeling you will never understand unless you have been there.”

Kranz said she was amazed to see through her family’s eyes the appreciation for having your loved one kept safe and provided for a Hope Lodge.

“Seeing the strength in resident bonds and the power it has to heal is incredible,” Michelle said. “Giving families hope and healing is exactly what Hope Lodge symbolizes.”

Hope Lodge opened its doors to guess in March 2003. Since then, over 55,000 free overnight stays have been provided for over 13,000 cancer patients and their caregivers.

The facility features a main level, which includes offices, a conference room, a gathering area with a fireplace and TV, library and a set of four kitchens with storage and beverage/snack areas. Two upper levels consist of sleeping rooms that are areas restricted to patients and their caregivers. The basement features a conference room, three large family living rooms, laundry room, storage and bathrooms. The library includes VHS tapes, DVDs, puzzles, games and books.

Several times during the week restaurants, including Taco Johns, Chips, Scotty’s Pizza and Chicken, Lammar’s Smokehouse, Baum’s Mercantile and Catering, Arby’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut, bring in meals. The North Ridge Church also provides provisions. Employees of Community Care of Central Wisconsin and BMO Harris Bank have prepared meals. On other occasions, a family or special group will bring in food, staying at times to serve meals.

“American Cancer Society Hope Lodge (ACSHL) communities are here for those patients whose best hope for effective treatment is away from home,” said ACSHL manager Joleen Specht. “Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for it allows our guests to focus on one thing - getting well.”

Specht said guests of Hope Lodge must meet a number of eligibility requirements, including: referred by Marshfield Clinic or St. Joseph’s Hospital staff; undergoing active outpatient cancer treatment in Marshfield; out-of-town travel to Marshfield (about 30 miles one way or more); independent and able to satisfy personal and nutritional needs, or have a support person who can assist; tour Hope Lodge and register in person; 18 years of age or older; comply with the smoke-and alcohol-free policies; and free of communicable diseases or determined not to be infectious by treating physician.

Michelle said family members couldn’t come to the private rooms at Hope Lodge.

“There are cancer patients of all kinds staying there,” she said. “Many are fragile and elderly people who cannot be disturbed. The last thing people want to do who come there is, having to leave to go to the store.”

There are computers and printers available in community rooms on the floor level. People can use the Internet to stay in touch with family members and also do research on their disease.

Michelle was able to do some work from a station at Hope Lodge. It was good therapy for her and something that was difficult for her to do at home during her return visits there.

Michelle said her doctor told her due to the risk of infection she would be unable to stay at home during her aggressive regimen of cancer treatments.

“He said if I had an accident in between I would bleed to death before the EMTs got there,” she said.

She was put in the hospital immediately following her AML diagnosis. Three days later Michelle began treatments that continued for the next eight months.

She began a regimen of 20 days of chemotherapy, including two varieties 24 hours per day during the first week of treatments.

“The process is called ‘consolidation,’ Michelle explained. “It basically takes your immune system down to nothing.”

Chemotherapy was continued in four weekly cycles, with alternating stays in the hospital and Hope Lodge.

Michelle at this point, she is cancer free. She must have checkups every three months for the next five years.

“If I make it that far, doctors say I can back up to checkups twice a year,” Michelle said. “They say my cancer has an 87-percent chance of recurring during the first five years after treatment. They also told me without treatment I would have been dead in two months following my diagnosis.”

The Kranz family took on a soup drive in 2013, collecting approximately 750 cans of soup for the Hope Lodge. This year’s collection effort was expanded to include soup and supplies. Additional items donate included soap, Kleenex, paper towels, note pads and pens. The Kranz family contributed 24 soup bowls for the four Hope Lodge kitchens.

Hope Lodge is supported entirely be donations to the American Cancer Society. The Marshfield Clinic sponsors an annual fundraiser called the Vita Bella Gala. The last one was held in May 2014 at the River Edge Country Club.

For more information call 715-486-9100 or visit

The Kranz family of Neillsville, (l-r) Michelle, Lane, Joe and Tye, pose with items delivered Dec. 15 to Hope Lodge in Marshfield. The Krainz family’s second annual Hope Lodge Food and Supply Drive was a tremendous success. The effort is the family’s way of “paying it forward” in appreciation of the facility used by Michelle during her battle with cancer in 2012-2013. (Contributed Photo)



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