Within days, we will flip the calendar into a new year. The holidays are always a period of reflection and we will take memories of so many families with us from 2016. Despite our sincerest efforts to maintain a certain professional buffer between our guests’ circumstances and our own human emotions, we find ourselves drawn into certain stories. We have shared some very compelling ones with you this year.
We read about Lorraine Ancic in November. Earlier this year, doctors detected a tumor in her vaginal region along with cancer cells in an adjacent lymph node. Lorraine commuted to Sacramento from Chico for treatments until doctors referred her to Kiwanis Family House, a decision she praised as a blessing. “Being close to the hospital for my treatment is really convenient. I’m grateful for it.” More recently, PET scans showed cancer cells spreading within her bones, liver, and lymph nodes and Lorraine chose to end treatment. She left KFH preparing herself for a future of hospice support.
In April, we said goodbye to the Bhuta family from Mumbai, India. Tushar and Nita Bhuta and their adult son Ankit checked out of Kiwanis Family House following an eight-month stay. In September 2015, Ankit sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle accident that required months of surgeries and therapy. Prior to heading home to India, Tushar said about Kiwanis Family House, “It is like a second home to us. Staying near the hospital with transportation available has been a blessing. I can’t imagine where else we would have stayed.”
No words can adequately portray the impact of our experience with 26-year-old leukemia patient Sandra Gantt Baxter and her family. We have recounted it multiple times with our readers, including her spirited fight and her eventual death in October. Needless to say, many of us will carry this one with us for a very long time. Sandra’s young children stole our hearts and those of many fellow guests over the many months that they called Kiwanis Family House their home.
We will remember 2016 for a rare and important recognition. Kiwanis International Magazine helped us spread our good name and legacy to Kiwanis members in 80 countries in its October edition. The editors prominently captured the Bhuta and Gantt Baxter family story in its eight-page feature.
This year, we have again enjoyed the company and the poetry of Hector Damian Cocio Sanchez. We met him in 2010 as an eleven-year-old boy and he is now a grown 17-year-old man. Shriner’s Hospital has been caring for Hector and his family since a vehicle accident in their Baja California hometown left him paralyzed from the waist down. His father Damian recalls that they never expected to find the Kiwanis Family House. “Hector and his sister Gloria always want to come to the KFH because it feels like home to them,” he says through a translator.
When you listen to Hector recite his poetry, you sense that his appreciation for life – and for the people in his – are molded by how he and his family have prevailed over their recent misfortunes.
“I THINK YOU GET TO CHRISTMAS
SHOULD CONSIDER IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY,
YES! OPPORTUNITY BECOME BETTER HUMAN BEINGS,
OPPORTUNITY FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL FORGIVE,
LOVE OF APPRECIATE THOSE AROUND US
AND RECOGNIZE THAT IT IS GOD WHO GIVES US THAT OPPORTUNITY.”
With Hector’s words refreshed in my memory, I feel ready to welcome the 1,800 families who will look to us for respite in 2017.