Profound Healing Happens Here
Thanks to you, a California couple found the strength to battle a rare cancer far from home.
“It’s time to get up, love.” My husband, Cam, kissed me gently and nudged me awake. “The lab results came back. The doctor wants to see us.” I gave him a groggy, quizzical look—What?! I had expected to sleep in that morning—a few more precious minutes to recover from a long summer trip before I returned to teaching the next day. But his words yanked me back to reality.
I’ll never forget the moment. Mesothelioma, the pernicious cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, was about to turn our lives inside out.
Cam’s cancer was a rare kind of an already rare disease. And there were no doctors near our home city of Los Angeles who could give him the treatment he needed. So we started a nationwide search for a surgical oncologist who was expert at performing the terribly complex procedure. Through what I’m convinced was the mercy of God and the universe, we found Dr. Edward Levine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Looking back, I can hardly believe we lived the experiences to come:
The eight-hour surgery that invaded most of Cam’s vital organs. Heated chemo solution applied directly to his abdominal tissue. Total kidney failure followed by agonizing dialysis sessions and then life-threatening allergic reactions. Ugly infections and near-death moments so frequent they blurred into one another.
But we survived it, in no small part because of the amazing SECU Family House.
From the moment we walked through the doors of our beautiful home away from home—full of Southern charm, comfy furnishings, and a spirit of genuine caring—we knew the universe was going to take care of us. Initially, Cam was in the hospital for three weeks, and I slept on a cot in his room. But our moms and Cam’s brother flew cross-country to support us and stayed at the Family House. Each night, they soaked up the encouragement and love of the families and staff there, and then burst into the hospital room the next morning with a new dose of hope. Finally, Cam and I transitioned to the Family House for a couple weeks so he could gather enough strength to fly home. And we found everything we never dreamed we’d need:
- A kitchen where I could store and prepare kidney-safe food anytime of day.
- Amazing volunteers who brought in meals and solace and constant smiles when we thought we might never smile again.
- Fellow travelers on arduous medical journeys who became fast and loyal friends.
- Gracious staff ready 24 hours a day to give practical help, caring hugs, and comforting words.
- A spacious, serene room that eased Cam’s long days of recovery and gave him a retreat after brutal dialysis sessions.
And all with more convenience and less cost than we could have found anywhere else. Four years have now passed since that first call from the doctor, and sometimes it feels like the sleepy, confused fog of that morning is just now lifting. I’ve learned that healing is much more than the medical care delivered in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Profound healing—both in body and soul—happens in places like the Family House, where patients and caregivers and staff cross paths and share their experiences, fears, hope, and love.
Thank you, volunteers and donors.
The Family House is sunshine—an inextinguishable beacon of light that still inspires and comforts us. If every community could have a SECU Family House, we could burn away the fog of a million difficult days.
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