Quality mesothelioma treatment is available — just not always close to home. Victims of asbestos exposure often must travel across multiple state lines, sometimes even multiple time zones, to get the help they deserve.

The roadblock to that treatment is simple: $$$. Traveling costs money, whether it’s the airfare or lodging price.

One company, Airbnb, is joining other businesses in sharing the financial burden for many mesothelioma patients.

Airbnb announced earlier this year its Open Homes for Medical Stays program, which provides free housing for cancer patients and their caregivers. Then the company announced a partnership with the Cancer Support Community and Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation to help cancer patients find housing through the Open Homes program.

Airbnb also set up grants with the two non-profit organizations to provide financial assistance to patients when a free home isn’t available. According to WebMD, grant funding for these instances is at least $1.2 million.


How the Program Works

Airbnb has partnered with these nonprofit organizations because they have connections with cancer patients all across the United States. These non-profits identify people in need of housing and help them book accommodations — or do so on their behalf. Airbnb uses the non-profits’ vetting process to ensure they help people who are in desperate need.

To be eligible for the free housing initiatives, applicants must meet specific geographic and income criteria:

  • Traveling at least 50 miles for care
  • Maximum gross family income caps depending on the size of the household


Why Airbnb’s Program Is Needed

The cost of travel is one of the biggest hurdles for people seeking mesothelioma treatment. For instance, hotel rooms in Boston, Massachusetts, home to the world-renowned Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its mesothelioma program, run in the hundreds of dollars per night. Many patients and their families cannot pay that much money, forcing them to settle for less-than-quality mesothelioma treatment from a doctor who has little knowledge of the disease.

Cancer Support Community CEO Kim Thiboldeaux, who was quoted on Airbnb’s webpage that announced the initiatives, said her company takes “thousands of calls” from people who struggle with the costs of traveling for treatment. She said they often cannot receive clinical trials, scans or “other medically necessary care” and the partnership with Airbnb “is a game-changer” for them.

“You can hear the relief and gratitude in their voices as they learn about the free housing from the Airbnb community.”


Host Hospitality: Opening Your Home to Mesothelioma Patients

Airbnb’s program relies on the generosity of others. Without people willing to open their homes to those in need, this initiative would not be possible. According to WebMD, as of April, around 2,000 cancer patients received housing through Airbnb’s program.

The company hopes to house thousands more in the coming months and years. For that reason, Airbnb is always looking for homeowners to host patients of mesothelioma or other forms of cancer.

According to the Cancer Support Community website, “Open Homes hosts do more than just put a roof over people’s heads. Their hospitality can make a major impact on people’s lives.”


How to Sign Up for Airbnb’s Program

If you are a mesothelioma patient and looking for free or affordable housing through Airbnb or other businesses, we at Mesothelioma Guide can help. Our patient advocate, Karen Ritter, knows of the resources and patient support options available to help curb some of the financial strain associated with seeking treatment or respite care.

With her help, you can learn if you qualify for free housing through Airbnb’s partnership with the Cancer Support Community or another similar program. Additionally, if you do qualify, Jenna will help you sign up for these programs. She also knows of businesses that provide financial assistance for airfare and other costs associated with traveling for mesothelioma treatment.

Email her at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com for any questions you have regarding these programs — or to learn how to register to host mesothelioma patients in your home.

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    Sources & Author

  1. Free Housing for Patients Traveling for Cancer Treatment. Cancer Support Community. Retrieved from: https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/airbnb. Accessed: 06/10/19.
  2. Open Homes for patients traveling for cancer treatment. Cancer Support Community. Retrieved from: https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/openhomes-patients-traveling-cancer-treatment. Accessed: 06/10/19.
  3. Airbnb Offers Free Housing to Some Cancer Patients. WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20190408/airbnb-offers-free-housing-to-some-cancer-patients. Accessed: 06/10/19.
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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.