A Story of Hope

Fighting Cancer During COVID-19

COVID-19 has put many life-changing events on hold. Unfortunately, cancer diagnosis and treatment isn’t one of them. For Duke Cancer Institute patient Jim Hahn and his fiancé, Mary Smith, navigating the cancer journey during a worldwide pandemic has been their reality.

Jim and Mary live in Florida and have been engaged for 5 years. Their wedding plans were first put on hold while Mary recovered from open-heart surgery. On the day Mary went for her final check-up, Jim was unexpectedly admitted to the same hospital as a cancer patient. Jim was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive type of cancer that begins within the brain. Mary was stunned to learn of Jim’s diagnosis. As they sought admission into a clinical trial program at Duke Cancer Institute, they needed to figure out the logistics of cancer care. This is when they discovered Caring House.

“We feel special at Caring House. They know our story and care about our well-being in a sincere and genuine way.”

Jim began the “polio vaccine trial” developed at Duke Health’s very own The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center in June 2020. As a result, Jim needed to visit Duke Cancer Institute every month for the average duration of a week. The financial toll of travel expenses and hotel stays became just another factor for the couple to lose sleep over. However, discovering Caring House allowed them to confidently move forward with their treatment plans. “We have been so lucky to be able to stay at Caring House each time we come to Duke. It makes life so much easier,” says Mary. After a stressful day of travel or treatment, “Caring House always feels like home.” 

This past September, Jim spent the morning of his birthday at Caring House – and what a day it was! The month prior, Jim had been wheelchair bound. With the help of his DCI doctors and his treatment regimen, Jim walked out of Caring House on his way home to celebrate his special day. While he still has a long road ahead of him, please join us all in celebrating Jim’s victory, as we continue to cheer him on!