Guest Story: Finding Family

If you were told you had a cancer so rare there have only been 200 cases of it in the past 90 years, what would you do? For former guest, Christen, this is exactly the diagnosis she faced in late January. And yet, her fighting spirit overcame her shock.

“I thought, ‘Ready or not, here we go. Let’s do this!’ she tells me on a day in April during her six-week stay at Caring House. 

Christen is a Special Education Teacher’s Assistant in Hendersonville, North Carolina. When she’s not working, she spends time with her three-year-old daughter, who she lovingly talks about while showing me pictures of the two together. 

When Christen learned she would have to travel to Durham for treatment at Duke Cancer Institute for her malignant melanotic schwannoma, she was frantic to find a place to stay to  avoid commuting from home for six weeks. That’s when a social worker connected her to Caring House.

Christen did not arrive at Caring House with a caregiver, but it took her no time at all to build a family of her own during her stay. Her bubbly energy and outgoing personality made it easy for her to connect with other guests. “That Monday afternoon, I came back from radiation and I sat and talked to Leslie for two hours. Nancy came up to me and said, “I’m Nancy and I hear you’re by yourself, well you’re not by yourself anymore!’ And she turned into like another mom to me. And Larry was like another dad to me,” she says. 

Through long chats in the dining room, card games in the library, walks on sunny days, and weekend activities with other guests, Christen continued to form long-lasting friendships that supported her through treatment, including her newfound best friend, Leslie. 

Her favorite spot in the house is the community kitchen and dining room, where she says most guests gather for meals and spend time with each other. Christen has admittedly enjoyed the break from her life that she’s had while at Caring House, despite the circumstances.

As her time wraps up at Caring House, Christen is excited to get back to her career and daughter, and she’ll take with her fond memories of the community she found during her stay.

“I feel like Caring House was the best option I could have ever asked for. I’ve loved it here. It’s been like a family.”

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Written by Kristen Luft, Communications Associate