For Choteau Mayor, Gift of Life Housing is ‘Godsend’

As he counts down to the final days of his cancer treatment, Choteau Mayor Chris Hindoien reflected on the team that is carrying him to the finish line.

There are the neighbors who drive him to radiation and chemotherapy. There are the friends who shovel his walk when it’s 20 below. Then there are the people helping him heal at Benefis Health System.

Chris, 55, noticed a lump in his throat in September, but priorities are priorities. He had to get an elk first.

After the freezer was full, Chris went in for a scan at Benefis Teton Medical Center, where he saw Dr. Jeffrey Baker, a Benefis otolaryngologist who specializes in head and neck surgery. Dr. Baker did a biopsy, and two minutes later, Chris was on the phone with Sletten Cancer Institute.

Having the initial scan in Choteau saved Chris a trip to Great Falls and “there’s something about sitting at the hospital and looking at the mountains that is relaxing.”

Chris has chemotherapy in three-day runs at Sletten Cancer Institute. That’s when he turns to Gift of Life Housing.

Because of the generosity of donors, cancer patients who travel to Benefis for treatment can stay at Gift of Life Housing at no cost.

The atmosphere is homey, peaceful, and welcoming, with donated homemade quilts  and a house of people in a similar situation.

“It tells you you’re not alone,” Chris said. Gift of Life Housing “is a godsend.”

With Chris staying at Gift of Life Housing, his wife, Tammy, can stay home with their little one and pets. Meanwhile, Chris can walk to his treatment next door. If he’d stayed at a hotel, someone would have had to stay with him to drive him to and from his treatments.

Chris praised Sletten’s caring radiology and infusion teams plus oncologists Dr. Carolyn Rutter and Dr. Bryan Martin.

“There’s none better than Sletten,” he said. “It’s a lovely place. Closer to home, there’s a comfort in that.”