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Dawn Petrie

Guest Story: Dawn Petrie

Appleton, Wis.

Kathy’s House helped me find my smile and my strength again.

After six weeks of vertigo, dizziness, migraines, and vomiting following inner ear surgery, Dawn Petrie was convinced she was going to die. The Appleton resident called Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee and described her symptoms, including loss of balance function, loss of weight and muscle, and loss of hearing. She was reassured to hear the nurse on the other end of the line say, “We’re not going to let you die. You just have to get down here.”

With help from the nurse, Dawn arranged to stay at Kathy’s House, her friend Ted flying in from Arizona to be her caregiver. “I’ve never been to a place where so many people who are ill or fighting some kind of health battle can settle, commune and even share each other’s loads for a while in conversation,” she wrote during her stay.

That sense of community meant that Dawn shared in both the joy and the sadness of other guests during her four-month stay. “The song Fire and Rain by James Taylor helps me explain this part of my experience at Kathy’s House,” she wrote in her journal. This song is for all the patients who come here and the battles they fight. For their triumphs and their losses. For the lives saved and the lives lost.”

“Kathy’s House helped me find my smile and my strength again,” Dawn said.  I’ll be forever grateful for the kindness and acceptance I received from the staff and volunteers. Kathy’s spirit surrounds this place, giving it a feeling of safety and goodness. What started as a distressing memory was healed with a hopeful one at Kathy’s House.”