Home Is Where The Heart Is

Our home is our sanctuary, an environment we create to feel comfortable and to enjoy time with loved ones. For Dave and Kathleen Belangor, 2020 was a year filled with obstacles and darkness. 

Starting off the year with a global pandemic would be a blow for anyone, yet the battle for the light at the end of the tunnel was only beginning. Days before Thanksgiving, Kathleen’s full-time position was eliminated after 20 years of service to the company, leaving her with no benefits and cutting off a source of income before the holiday season. That was just the beginning. 

Dave was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma years ago and had been in and out of remission ever since. In the fall, he had his yearly PET scan which sadly left him with not great results. On Christmas day the couple was informed that Dave’s cancer had a recurrence and a biopsy was scheduled for February. The biopsy would show whether the cancer had transformed or not. Shortly after the procedure, the couple met with Dave’s doctors to discuss the results of his biopsy. Sadly, the biopsy showed that the cancer had transformed, leaving Dave with a few options to continue his fight to beat cancer. After research, consultants, and praying Dave decided that his only hope was CAR T-cell treatment.

However, doctors informed the couple of the qualifications of the treatment, which was that the family had to stay within 30 minutes of the Philadelphia area for four weeks. Residing three hours outside of the city and not having an income, the odds felt stacked against them. Kathleen broke down in the doctor’s office feeling defeated, but then doctors mentioned Nick’s House and HEADstrong foundation.

The Belangor’s moved into Nick’s House in early April right as spring was blooming in Swarthmore. 

“I couldn’t help but cry for here we were in a beautiful house, with a spacious bedroom, living rooms, outdoor porch, kitchen, dining room,” Kathleen said. “To be able to come home after treatments and sit on the porch and just enjoy the space was an absolute blessing.”

After a long road of darkness, they found themselves in a house filled with light and warmth. Nick’s house became their home – a space filled with love, comfort and rest. 

However, it was not only the memories of their time at Nick’s House that the Belangor’s took home with them at the end of their stay, but their gratitude for Nick’s vision, the Colleluori family, staff and the donors. 

“To the donors who made Nick’s house a ‘home away from home,’ they may never fully realize that what they contributed means the world to those, who needed it during their darkest moments when you’re not thinking about cancer but instead are thinking about how nice it is to be a beautiful setting,” Kathleen said.

Since returning home, Dave has received a clean scan and excellent bloodwork results as a result of his CAR T-cell treatment. While there is still a ways to go for full remission, thanks to their ability to stay at Nick’s House so that he could undergo treatment, there is now light at the end of the tunnel.