by: Colleen Perry
Life is tenuous. One moment it’s perfect—filled with anticipation for the next family vacation, graduation, or birthday celebration. We plan for the good we expect. We save for the future. We go to bed each night expecting tomorrow. And then . . .
Thomas Greer vividly remembers and easily shares the moment his family’s life turned upside down. It began when his wife Jodi developed a persistent cough that wouldn’t go away. After the usual round of medications, x-rays revealed the unexpected. The unplanned. Lung cancer.
“We planned and saved for the future,” he says. “But we never planned for cancer.” He talks about the long trips to Houston’s M.D. Anderson hospital and other medical facilities—long trips that resulted in days of staying in hotel rooms while Jodi was hospitalized, undergoing new tests and searching for cutting edge, life-saving treatments.
He remembers the expenses of all those hotel stays, “Had it not been for all the hotel points I had racked up on business trips, we could not have afforded the hotel rooms.” Even during the local stays at Sparks Regional Medical Center there were days he would return home to Alma in the wee hours of the morning after sitting all night with Jodi.
“Most of the time I would get home only to shower, grab a quick nap, and return to the hospital. We had a great support system in friends and family who would take the girls at a moment’s notice while Jodi and I rushed to the hospital because of a new complication. During those times, what little bit of sleep I would get would be in a hospital chair or on a quick run home. It was difficult.”
Toni Holohan is the Volunteer Manager at Sparks Regional Hospital and President of The Family Healing Place board of directors. Her goal is to serve area families like the Greers. “Long term care poses a great strain on area families,” she explains. “It is not unusual for families to sleep in their cars rather than return home or pay high hotel expenses. The Family Healing Place will offer a place of shelter—and peace.”
Working from a Ronald McDonald House concept, The Family Healing Place will repurpose what was once a child care center in east side of Sparks Hospital. The facility will become a home away from home that provides out of town families with basic needs. Furnished guest rooms, a community kitchen with a dining area, and a family style day room with free Wi-Fi will provide areas for sleep, relaxation and nutrition. Daily access to the Marvin Altman Fitness Center and prayer support will offer physical and spiritual respite for family members.
Thomas Greer is part of the team helping to make the facility a reality for area families. He explains the importance of The Healing Place from the perspective of one who has lived through medical adversity, “There were many times when it would have been nice to have had a place to shower and relax while Jodi was being cared for. It would have been nice for the girls to have had more nights with their mother and I as we battled for her life. The Family Healing Place will offer such a place for other families as they face the challenges that come with a loved one who is hospitalized. This will keep families safe and offer a place where they can rest while loved ones receive care.”
The mission is simple, “To provide a peaceful and relaxing experience for patients’ families or cancer patients receiving daily treatment.”
As with all projects of this scope, there is the need for financial support from the community. A capital campaign is underway to raise the $518,000 needed to fund The Family Healing Center. Your charitable gift of $5,000 can fund a coffee bar. $10,000 will build the laundry room. Gifts of $25,000 are needed to build and furnish each of the 8 guest rooms, another $30,000 for the kitchen, and $50,000 for the family room.
As we count our blessings this holiday season, it is good to remember those whose lives have been turned inside out. It is even better to share our financial abundance. If your business or your family has been so blessed this year, please reach out to Toni Holohan at Sparks and be a part of making The Family Healing Place a reality for those in need. Toni.Holohan@SparksHealth.com, 479-441-5260 or visit thefamilyhealingplace.com for more information.