MINNEAPOLIS - Slow days for Zoe Austin are filled with promise of escaping the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital hallways. The 17-year-old is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
This is the second time she has had the cancer, which starts in white blood cells. She was first diagnosed when she was 14.
“I would have chemo for two weeks and then I would have a break. It was like that for like six months,” she said from her hospital room.
Her mom, Erika Austin, turned to exercise to help relieve stress when she received the news. Like so many parents and patients, she knows eight laps around the fifth floor of the hospital equals a mile. For some, that walk has been the only form of exercise while at the hospital.
Soon, the Blythe Brenden-Mann Foundation Wellness Center will be another outlet to relieve stress for parents like Erika Austin. It's the first of its kind wellness center for patients. The 24-hour center offers treadmills, yoga space, integrative therapies and salon services.
“I was a little stir crazy yesterday so it would be nice to be able to just walk on the treadmill or throw down a yoga mat,” she said. “I am excited about this center opening. This can be stressful. Those are natural things that we can do … to feel better so I can support my daughter. The clearer my mind is, the more I can be present for her. Laugh and help her get through these times when she is not feeling well.”
Blythe Brenden donated $250,000 for the space, according to a hospital spokesperson. The gym equipment was donated by Life Time and all salon services and products were donated by Intelligent Nutrients.
The center opens later this month for patients. Salon services will be free of charge for parents and patients. The services will be provided by volunteer licensed professionals.