Guest Story: Open Doors

A positive attitude and obvious poise are not the only things that accompany former Caring House guest Elizabeth. With coordinating accessories that accentuate her beautiful outfits, she is a magnetic force that finds strength and hope at every corner. “The word cancer is something that cannot intimidate me. It’s just something I have to go through,” she said.

Elizabeth’s cancer journey started in August of 2023, when she received mammogram results shortly after celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary with her husband. After researching doctors at Duke, she called the office and in a stroke of luck, was assigned the exact doctor she had hoped for. “I had written her name down and didn’t expect to be treated by her,” she said.

Elizabeth has a strong faith and often spots signs in her life that give meaning to her journey. “Everything right now is about opening doors,” she said. The opening and closing doors she mentioned represent opportunities and possibilities that teach her to cope, learn, and find purpose in her life. Elizabeth spoke of biblical references that keep her grounded and highlight the strength that can come with changing your perspective. 

Hailing from Belton, South Carolina, Elizabeth knew that a 4.5 hour commute wouldn’t be possible during her radiation treatment at Duke Cancer Institute. She was connected to Caring House and ended up visiting for a tour. “My thoughts were, ‘it’s too good to be true.’ The price is something I can afford,” she recollected.

She found a true open door at Caring House, not through the front entry, but at the door to the dining room, where she talked to other guests and built meaningful, supportive connections with people facing cancer too. 

“Looking out the window here, I mean it’s just serenity. I don’t know who those six women were that founded Caring House, but they stuck with the vision,” Elizabeth said. 

Her vision for her own future is to start a patient companion program so that no woman goes to a mammogram appointment by herself. She mentioned how stressful and hard the process can be, from the feelings of discomfort and the scary unknown, to receiving potentially devastating results. 

Her own experience with breast cancer has propelled her to foster more compassion and hope in the cancer community, and turn her journey into something positive. Another door opened. 

“If that person does get the bad news, they have support. I had support. I can’t imagine not having anyone. I want to be able to walk through that door with them,” she said. 

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Written by: Kristen Luft, Communications Associate