The guests who stay at Kathy’s House each face their own unique health challenge. Their stories are often extraordinary. We are honored to be a part of their journey. Below are stories from some of our recent guests.
Roger Caplinger, Medical Director of the Milwaukee Brewers, talks about his experience with cancer and the impact the team at Kathy’s House has on those who are facing health problems.
Denise and Cliff Smith – Crivitz, WI and Racine, WI
“We retired in Crivitz, WI. Cliff was a welder for 40 years. I was raised in Milwaukee and we raised our 6 kids in Racine, WI.” They found themselves back in Milwaukee for Cliff’s bone marrow cancer. He had two rounds of chemo in Crivitz before needing to come to Froedtert for more specialized care. They stayed at Kathy’s House for 3-4 months after initially being on our wait list. When Denise got out of the hospital, she didn’t realize the stress she was under. She felt like she arrived “home” when she came to Kathy’s House. She attributes some of her and Cliff’s healing to having people around at the end of the day when she walks in the door exhausted because of a long day. “There is a community of people who are going through the same thing my husband is just starting.” Denise wants to say thank you to so many people that she doesn’t even know who have really affected her life, Cliff’s life, and her family’s life. “Kathy’s House been such a blessing and I thank you.”
Maria – Wisconsin Rapids, WI
“It was a Sunday and I was in my house and suddenly my husband had a massive stroke. They flew him here to Milwaukee from Wisconsin Rapids.”
It was a shocking experience because everything turned upside. I didn’t have the means to stay here long and I knew he was going to need me. I stayed in a hotel for 2-3 days and it was cold, and I was dealing with so much stress. Kathy’s House welcomed me with open arms. It’s like being part of a family, being with friends, and that is what I am so thankful for. When you’re here, you are surrounded with people that welcome you, they know what I’m going through, they listen and give support.”
The recovery has been amazing. I’m pretty sure it was because he had a support system who could stay with him.
I would like to thank all the people who donate because we really need it. This experience has changed my life to the point that I want to do what you do. I want to open my arms to working in a place like this. Because Kathy’s House is the solution to so many problems.”
Travis Augustine - Fond du Lac, WI
Travis Augustine , just 45, learned last spring he needed a stem cell transplant. He's been on leave from Mercury Marine since then. From Fond du Lac, Travis came to Kathy's House post-transplant at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. His sister, Tina Huelsman from Florida, surprised him on the day he arrived at Kathy's House. His mom, daughter, girlfriend, and another sister all stayed at Kathy's House while Travis was hospitalized. Travis said, "People are friendly, and it is great that we can cook here."
Jana Peterson - Green Bay, WI
Jana Peterson from Green Bay was inpatient at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin with leukemia and she was pregnant. The medical staff wanted her to stay close by to continue outpatient care. In mid November, Jana came to Kathy's House accompanied by her fiance, Cole. A beautiful baby girl, Juna, was born on February 7, 2018. After they returned home Jana said, "I don't know what we would have done without Kathy's House. Everyone was so nice, welcoming and helpful. It's a great place!"
The Theis Family - Chicago, IL
Julie Theis, along with her daughter Megan (21) & son Nicolas (9) stayed at Kathy's House for 3 nights. After moving from Chicago, IL to Minocqua, WI, Froedtert Hospital was the closest hospital that provided the medical services Megan needs to treat side effects of cancer treatments. Nicolas told Julie, "I like the game room. Last night we played Lord of the Rings (Monopoly) until 11pm. It's like home."
Julie said they would not have been able to afford the meals and lodging if they were not able to stay at Kathy's House. She also said, "I feel blessed that Megan and I could stay here and with Nicolas. Otherwise I would have had to drive to Chicago to stay with relatives, and he's loving being here."
Father and Daughter, Ken and Christine - Germany
Christine Willett, from California, came to Kathy's House following her stem cell transplant. Her father Ken Willett lives in Germany and came here to support her. Christine heard about the great work her physician Dr. Hari and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin are doing in stem cell transplants from an online patient forum. When Christine first came for an evaluation, she stayed in a hotel but when she began treatment, she arranged to stay at Kathy's House based on housing information from Froedtert. "I feel safe here and really appreciate the social aspect, meeting other people going through a similar situation."
Peg Krupka - Appleton, WI
Peg's husband of 52 years, Jerry, received a stem cell transplant at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. She says "Kathy's House is like a cocoon. Everybody cares, staff and other guests. I love the place. I feel secure, comfortable and I've met many people I now call friends."
Steve and Lisa Peters - Oshkosh, WI
"At Kathy's House, I was surrounded by people who had empathy for my situation. Everyone there was so kind. I could feel that they were pulling for me. I appreciated the support, and it made a real impact on my recovery. It makes you feel good to have an army like that on your side," said Steve Peters from Oshkosh. Steve's wife Lisa stayed at Kathy's House for about a month while he received a stem cell transplant at Froedtert Hospital. Steve joined Lisa at the House for another couple of weeks.
Sisters, Deb and Dawn - Medford, WI
Former guests, Deb Kennedy and Dawn Higgins, both from Medford, Wisconsin are part of triplets! When Dawn needed a bone marrow transplant, Debra was a perfect match. Dawn was under the care of Dr. Hari at Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center.
"I love everything about Kathy's House," said Dawn. "It is an amazing place. The food prepared by volunteers was wonderful and so were all of the people we met. And the hospital is an amazing place too!"
David and Dianne Schneider - Green Bay, WI
Guests David and Dianne from Green Bay were at Kathy's House after Diane received a bone marrow transplant at Froedtert Hospital. Dianne and David knew about Kathy's House because David's brother stayed here a couple of years ago. The Blood Center of Wisconsin registers individual donors for a modest fee and Dianne's bone marrow donor was a 31 year old. The Schneider's are grateful for the gift of life. A very fun-loving couple, they often wore colorful t-shirts. Dianne said, "Kathy's House is a quiet, peaceful place and has everything you need."
Thank God for Kathy's House
Patrick O'Brien was a guest just 5 years ago and now the cancer has returned. Patrick notes that the House has changed some, but the sense of family and a home environment is still present."When my wife, Pam Stevens O'Brien heard I was going to stay at Kathy's House, she said, 'thank God for Kathy's House. She knew I would be well taken care of." Patrick’s positive attitude reminds us that despite being on different journeys, it’s important to remain thankful for everything that lightens the load along the way.
The Hendricks From the Green Bay Area
The Hendricks from the Green Bay area often bring a box of Serogoy's Chocolates for the staff when they return to Kathy's House. Lois Hendricks stayed at Kathy's House for 68 nights while her husband Thomas began his treatment at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin with superstar physician Dr.Doug Evans. Lois read about the Second Opinion program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in the Froedtert Today magazine and they decided to give it a try. Lois and Tom were impressed with that service as well as all of the staff at Froedtert Hospital. Lois said even the cleaning people are friendly and whenever you look a little lost at the hospital, someone will stop and help you get to your destination. At Kathy's House, Lois was grateful for the rides to and from the hospital. "It's like being at home and when we return, it is like coming home and being welcomed by friends!
The Thompson Family
Trevor Thompson was piloting a blimp when it went down during the US Open Golf Championship in June 2017. Trevor was treated at Froedtert Hospital and then at Columbia St. Mary's Burn Unit. Initially his wife, Lorraine, from Georgia and mother, Susan, from Utah were staying in a local hotel. However, when local festival Summerfest started, all the rooms were booked and they had no place to stay. Upon a recommendation from Froedtert Hospital, they toured Kathy's House and found it fit their needs perfectly.
Lorraine and Susan stayed at Kathy's House for 2 weeks before they were able to take Trevor back home to Georgia. They stated that they couldn't have been happier with the interaction with other guests and the incredible staff, and the local feeling of the home. They highly recommend it to any families who are in similar situations. They are so grateful that Kathy's House was available during this time of trial.