Nancy’s Care Cottage was born from a need Nancy Ternasky experienced first-hand.
When her son, Chad, was 16 he was diagnosed with a rare cancer of his salivary glands. The recommended treatment was a radical surgery which would scar and disfigure his face.
In spite of the devastating news, determination won out and Nancy’s family discovered a less invasive option at the University of Washington in Seattle. The next obstacle was accessing that care more than 2,500 miles from their home in upstate New York.
With the help of friends, a small house was found just a few miles from the medical center where Chad would be treated. Without it, oppressive housing costs would have limited Chad’s options. The generosity of others allowed for a happier ending, and today Chad is a handsome and healthy young man.
Then in 2013, Nancy herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a year of treatment at City of Hope, a cancer center near Los Angeles, some distance from her home. Friends came to the rescue with housing just minutes from the hospital. When her cancer became metastatic in 2017, Nancy returned to the City of Hope. Her friends didn’t think twice before welcoming her to their home once again.
PAYING IT FORWARD
“Those who face the greatest hardship are the ones who need to travel to a cancer center to be treated daily, sometimes for months,” Nancy said. “The burden of facing cancer, navigating cancer treatments, managing finances, and arranging for housing can be absolutely overwhelming.”
She moved to Lexington a couple of years ago to be near her daughter, and now continues her treatments at the Markey Cancer Center. The burden of finding temporary housing no longer exists for her, but she hasn’t forgotten the generosity of others.
“I had a dream of buying a house, furnishing it and making it available to those traveling long distances to cancer treatment,” Nancy said. “
In late April of this year, Nancy embarked on what she calls her “final adventure” -- Nancy’s Care Cottage at 145 Old Woolen Mill Lane off Leestown Road.
“I purchased a little house that I believed would be perfect,” Nancy said. “Everything about the house – the age (10 years), the condition, the everything on one level floor plan (3 bedroom, 2 bath), the distance from Markey Cancer Center as well as the distance from my own home – worked out better than I could have imagined.”
“I didn’t have a budget for a lot of expensive furniture,” Nancy said. “I walked into Ashley Furniture and told them what I was putting together. They listened, worked with me, and hooked me up with a TempurPedic rep which became a really crucial piece of the project.”
Nancy has been pleasantly surprised by the way the stars have aligned to make her dream a reality. She has nothing but love for the Markey Cancer Center and their social workers for their unwavering support for the Care Cottage. Another agency that jumped right in with donations was Kentucky Cancer Link, a non-profit community-based service.
Nancy also credits her realtor Clarissa Barber of Berkshire Hathaway De Movellan with going the extra mile to make her dream a reality.
On July 12, Nancy’s Care Cottage had an open house attended by social workers, community outreach people, neighbors and others. “The very next day I met with a woman diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and her family. Following a stem cell transplant they needed to stay in Lexington near the hospital for 100 days.”
That family became the first to benefit from the comfort and embrace of the Nancy’s Care Cottage. A second family is staying at the home now.
Nancy has a favorite quote that she holds close to her heart. “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect – you just have to care.”