Homeless with cancer

Cancer is never a straight-forward journey. Right from the moment of diagnosis, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by treatment decisions to be made, practical arrangements to be put in place for your job, your home, or child-care arrangements. For the lucky ones, we can turn to a support team of family, friends and community. Or perhaps there is just one person you can turn to – your spouse or partner or a friend, or parent or sibling. Cancer isn’t an easy road to embark on, but having social and practical support confers a degree of well-being and has a protective effect, which helps in recovery from treatment.

But what of those who are alone with no one to turn to, what if you have lost your home, or your job and you feel isolated and alone? My friend Taiya Evras is reaching out on behalf of a couple, who find themselves in a position of homelessness, while dealing with cancer.

Kathy and Paul live in Los Angeles, and have been married for 15 years. Kathy has endometrial cancer, stage 2. She has had a radical hysterectomy and salpingo oopherectomy and biopsies of her lymph nodes. Her surgery and hospital stay have been paid for through medical financial aide and if she requires chemo and/or radiation this too will paid for.

Paul and Kathy had been staying in a shelter in Glendale. Recovering from surgery is something even the best of shelters is not equipped to help with. There is no privacy. All space is shared and come  early morning, residents must leave. A private individual has paid for the couple to live in a budget hotel up until this Thursday, but after that, Kathy and Paul will have to leave their haven.

I am appealing to any you who may be in a position to help provide accommodation in the short-term, to please consider helping out this couple. Or perhaps you would think of paying for a night or two in this hotel, until a more permanent arrangement can be made? I can assure you that this is a genuine case. Before I posted this, I spoke with both Kathy and Paul on the telephone and they are, as Taiya had told me, a gentle, devoted and genuine couple, who are so grateful for the help they have received so far. They are not addicts, they are not mentally ill, nor any of the preconceived notions we may have of the homeless; they are just two people who have fallen on hard times – an all too familiar story in today’s economy. They are not asking for cash; they just need somewhere safe and clean for Kathy to recover.

So if you can help in any way, please contact us directly at beyondbreastcancer@live.com. The hotel per night costs about the price of a restaurant dinner, or the price of a new dress, or a beauty treatment – really not much at all,when you consider that the price of a restful night’s sleep to someone recovering from cancer treatment is priceless. Of course, I realize that this is a price too far for many, so if you know someone who might be able to help instead, please forward this information to them.

Many of us have been lucky to have had great support and help while we recovered from our own cancer,  so please then, spare a thought for those who are not so lucky. No one should have to face cancer in even more difficult circumstances than are warranted.

Let me leave you with this one last thought. Whether you believe in some kind of final judgement, or karma, or just the brotherhood and sisterhood of (wo)man…”we will be judged on whether we fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger , clothed the naked, comforted the sick…” It is powerful to have an opportunity to re-learn this wisdom – who might we feed, welcome, clothe, comfort or visit this week?