When Earl “Sammy” Gibe was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was referred to Cancer Care Northwest, a long way from his home in St. Maries. He would have to spend 40 days in Spokane getting treatment.
He was also referred to Melody Biehl, the founder of Because There is Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides temporary housing for cancer patients seeking treatment far from home.
Gibe is the first resident of Faye’s House, Because There is Hope’s first house.
“You can’t even imagine how much help it is,” Gibe said. Had it not been for Biehl, he would have had to stay at a hotel. The costs would add up.
“You come to a motel, it wouldn’t be a home,” Biehl added.
Biehl named the house in honor of friend Faye McLain, who had provided support when she had breast cancer 15 years ago. Not long after Biehl recovered, McLain died of breast cancer.
Biehl founded Because There is Hope in 2004 because she wanted to do something for others with cancer. By 2006, she had a 501(c)(3) tax designation and started raising funds and providing support.
She said she prayed she would find the people she needed to get started.
In 2009, a woman approached her offering to host a patient. Since then, she has placed about 60 patients in homes throughout the area. Some of them stay overnight, others longer.
But her ultimate goal was to find a house large enough to place more patients. That goal became reality Aug. 21, when she took possession of a home in Spokane Valley.
The home is owned by a former host family. They moved out of the area and decided to rent it to Biehl. Gibe was already staying there and is now the first resident of the newly christened Faye’s House.
The house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The owners left some furniture – there are beds, couches and a television. Biehl is now looking for more furniture, bedding, towels, bathrobes and pictures for the walls. She’s hoping to set up a registry at stores such as Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond, so people can donate items specifically for the house.
She’s also looking for volunteers. She said one of her volunteers shows up to bake cookies. She envisions someone coming to the home to teach craft classes. She hopes those who stay at the home can lean on each other for support.
Volunteers don’t provide medical care for the patients.
Patients who stay at the home must be referred to Biehl by their patient navigator, social worker or other agencies working with the patient. She said there are rules: No smoking, drinking or parties allowed.
Gibe is now through 30 days of treatment and said he feels great. While staying at Faye’s House, he brought along his PlayStation to watch movies or play games. He has offered to upgrade the satellite TV package for Biehl for a year.
Ultimately, she wants to create a home away from home.
“We want it full at all times,” she said. In coming years, she hopes to buy the house and maybe open another one closer to Spokane.
“I want to help as many people as we can,” she said.