She walked into the house with big “hellos” for everyone.
Not that Joyce Lawson particularly wanted to be back at Kevin Guest House. A return to the grand Victorian on Ellicott Street meant that her husband, Craig, was back at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center facing more complications from his treatment for bladder cancer.
But if she had to be back in Buffalo, if she had to deal medical complications, she was at least in a place that felt like home.
“When I came back and walked in the door, someone greeted me by my first name and said, ‘Oh, come on in, Joyce.’ In this huge complex of 17,000 workers among the complex of three hospitals, it’s amazing that people know your name and make you feel so welcomed,” she said. “It really is just such a wonderful thing that the parents of Kevin did and started back in 1972.”
The couple from Norwich, N.Y., outside of Binghamton, came to Buffalo seeking a second opinion after Craig was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
“When we heard it for the first time in Binghamton, it was all at once,” Joyce said. “He has bladder cancer. He needs to have his bladder removed. All within 10 minutes. That was a lot. We had heard about Roswell from friends of many years ago. I just felt the reputation out here was excellent and I wanted to come this way. We thought this was the place to come.”
When the decision was made to have his surgery in Buffalo, Joyce was looking for a place to stay. The choir director at her church suggested she stay with his mother, who lives in Amherst. But Joyce was uncomfortable with driving in an unfamiliar area, particularly at night.
She found out about Kevin Guest House through the social work department at Roswell and it fit exactly what she needed – being close to the hospital where she didn’t have to worry about weather or driving. Then, it came with unexpected perks.
“It’s just such an amazing opportunity for people to have this oasis among all the concerns and the stress of other things that are going on in one’s life,” Joyce said. “This is a place where you have interactions with people going through similar experiences or you learn that the things you’re going through aren’t half as bad as what somebody else is going through.”
Craig has returned to Roswell to address some post-surgery complications, bringing Joyce back to Kevin Guest House each time. As challenging as it is, she isn’t worried about the time it’s taking to get Craig healthy. Instead, she is grateful for being in a supportive environment with people willing to put in the time and effort to make sure Craig, and Joyce herself, will be all right in the long run.
“We’re in the right place,” she said. “That’s what matters.”