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Guest Story: Unexpected Light

What started as a subtle pain for Caring House guest Gina ended up being Stage III cancer. As someone who never experienced medical issues in her life, the cancer came as an utter shock. 

Gina and her husband of 22 years, Gene, live north of Asheville, amongst the mountains and wildlife that keep them busy with outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. The two always seem to be ready for the next adventure, whether it’s camping, swimming, or cooking dishes that include their latest catch. 

Even with an intense diagnosis, Gina’s free spirit, humor, and positivity have remained steady. Of her cancer she said, “It definitely changed me, I expected to be angry, and sad, and in shock. What I didn’t expect is to feel lighter, and so much more appreciative. Now everything is so much more precious.”

Comprehensive cancer care led them to Duke Cancer Institute for Gina’s treatment. After being referred by a social worker, Gina and Gene learned about Caring House.

Communal living sounded like dorm living to the couple, but once they came to tour Caring House, it changed their minds. “It’s been more of a ‘church family experience’ to us. The friendliness and openness of the other Caring House patients and their caregivers make the experience even more positive,” she said.

Of their six-week stay, Gina mentioned the details that make Caring House special–from the
complimentary food and snacks, convenient hospital shuttle, and cozy rooms, to the comfortable dining room, free laundry access, and the beautiful gardens, grounds and hiking trails. Gina and Gene have also taken advantage of all Durham has to offer, including visiting Duke Gardens, the Forest History Society, spending the day at the Nasher Art Museum and fishing at the Eno River.

It’s not just the Caring House amenities and activities that have made an impact though. The spirit of Caring House has been a big part of Gina’s stay. “There is an emphasis on resilience, strength, and upbeat thinking at the Caring House that carried me through many dark moments,” she said. “My faith, family and friends were steadfast. My new support of friends at the Caring House and Duke Health was a surprise blessing. Thank you to all who make this place special.”


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Written by: Kristen Luft, Communications Associate