If an average day for you consists of waking up healthy and feeling great, having lunch with friends at the neighborhood deli, then celebrating your best friend’s birthday over pizza, cake and ice cream, you are one lucky person! Now consider waking up in a body whose organs no longer work the way they should, in fact you are on an organ donor list. No more deli meat sandwiches full of sodium, no high sugar desserts, and favorites like pizza have become a thing of the past. Imagine not being to attend big parties, family gatherings, shopping malls or even church because of the fear of getting sick. Restaurants are off the list because they do not comply with your nutritional requirements. You feel very isolated from the rest of the world. Your activities would include doctor visits, tests and lots of rest. Your life would be quite different. This is reality for the people who live at The Village of Mayo Clinic.
There are two sections at this facility. Hope Lodge is designed for cancer patients, and is generously funded by American Cancer Society. The other side is The Help In Healing Home, a place created for patients receiving organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplants. This is a non-profit facility that relies on community support and donations from private individuals and businesses. Each patient lives there with their caregiver in a casita and have access to a kitchen to cook their meals.
I was truly amazed by the beautiful dessert surroundings in this peaceful oasis. It felt safe and welcoming to me. They have done their best to design a family like atmosphere, full of the comforts of home. They provide compassionate care to those who are scared, uncertain and are in need of kindness. It was obvious that the patients here all become family, united by the need for healing.
I suppose I could relate to these people because of my past experiences. I was very ill when I was pregnant with my daughter. I contracted a virus that put both of our lives in danger. I spent about two years unable to do much, most of that was spent on bed rest and time recuperating from surgery. I know what it feels like to have life as you know it taken away, and the fear and frustration of being very ill.
I also had the opportunity to help care for my brother-in-law Danny. Danny came to live with us during last part of his life. He was quite sick and was trying to get on a transplant list. He would wake up in the morning and ask what was for dinner, the highlight of his day. I tried my best to make him meals that would comply to his low salt, low sugar and nutrient rich diet. It was a challenge to create recipes that everyone in my whole family liked. I soon came up with a whole repertoire of flavor packed recipes.
This is what brought me to The Village at Mayo. I had my cookbook full of ideas and understanding of the patients and caregivers that live there. Being a competitive cook, or a “Food Fighter,” has given me great knowledge. The last few years and have left me incredibly blessed and wanting to do more for others. I have gained this knowledge for a reason; it is time to give back. These people are fighters too, battling a fight of a lifetime. It is an honor to help them fight this battle with things they can change, like their food and diet. Food nourishes our bodies, but for these people it also feeds their heart and souls.
The next time you are having a bad day and you think your troubles are hard to bear, think about my new friends at The Hope and Healing Home. Take a moment and be thankful. Consider what it would be like to be in their position. Say a prayer, send good thoughts, or even consider giving a donation of time or money. Give because you can. Make your time count.
For more information about The Hope In Healing Home, click here
or visit visit www.helpinhealinghome.org
Facebook @ Help In Healing Home Foundation- Arizona Transplant House