Guest Story: House Mom
“Have y’all eaten yet?”
Those are the words you can hear coming from the kitchen where Caring House guest Betty stands, heating up leftovers from the community fridge. Betty is a natural caretaker, checking in on other guests, making sure there’s adequate food in the kitchen, and always ready to step in and help in whatever capacity she can. “From day to day, I love being in the kitchen to make sure that the food’s okay, everybody is served, and to make it comfortable when they come in and sit down,” she said.
Lovingly referred to as “House Mom” during her stay at Caring House, Betty is someone who has made connections with nearly everyone. When you need a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or a joke to make you smile, Betty is right there.
Betty is a Shallotte, NC native with a bubbly personality. You can often hear her down the hall starting conversations and laughing with other guests. “You know, It’s my goal in life to leave that good impression on people,” she said.
There’s no doubt that Betty is a giver. She’s been a lifelong volunteer in her own community, working with her church, local charities, youth groups, hospitals and food banks. She is chatty and kind, carrying wisdom with her from a lifetime of medical struggles, including a coma during her first pregnancy, a stroke, kidney cancer four years ago, and toxicity to chemo treatment, among other issues.
Betty cared for her daughter with special needs for 30 years, and lovingly spoke of her with tears in her eyes. She cared for her husband when he was injured in a motorcycle accident. And through knowing pain and grief intimately, she has used her journey for good.
“With my medical experience through the years, I have applied it to helping other people. And being knowledgeable, I do ask a lot of questions.” she said.
Betty is a full-on patient advocate, asking the right questions and being her own champion in the often confusing and overwhelming medical field. She encourages other patients to ask questions too and to share as many details on their medical history with their doctor. She gives advice based on her own experiences as a patient herself, a full-time caretaker within her own family, and a former hospice care worker.
In February of last year, Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer. A nearly 3-hour commute to Duke Cancer Institute from her hometown on the coast wasn’t a possibility. She arrived at Caring House for a six-week stay during treatment.
Of her experience here, Betty shared, “I can’t really find the right words to describe the camaraderie of everybody in here, from the staff, to the people bringing the food. You become a family. I mean you really do. Everybody immediately has that feeling of “I’m not traveling this by myself.”
Betty is absolutely a part of what makes Caring House a community filled with support, comfort, and friendship. She is a force of strength and resilience, standing right back up when life has thrown multiple obstacles her way.
Betty expressed her gratitude for the connections she’s made with other guests during her own cancer treatment. The instant bond with patients going through similar treatments is irreplaceable. “Just to be able to share with each other in this crisis of life, during a bad time, it helps. There’s not a dose of medicine you can apply to that,” she said.
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Written by: Kristen Luft, Communications Associate