LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A cancer diagnosis starts a difficult journey for those receiving it; however, the patient is not alone in being impacted.
The loved ones around them share in the physical and emotional stress cancer brings.
It’s a challenge Nancy Turnasky has felt from both sides.
“When my son was 16, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer. It was a cancer that couldn’t be treated anywhere that wasn’t 2,000 miles away,” Turnasky said.
“Almost six years ago now I was diagnosed with metastatic disease so stage 4 breast cancer.”
That diagnosis was Turnasky’s second bout with breast cancer.
It was at that time she reflected on her experiences as a patient and a caretaker, seeing a disparity in housing for families seeking treatment.
“It occurred to me it would be almost a fun project but almost a meaningful project to have a house that would serve other families like when my son was ill,” Turnasky said.
In the time since her second breast cancer diagnosis, Turnasky traded upstate New York for Lexington to be closer to her daughter.
She’s also used her new home as a place to launch her plan to help cancer families: Nancy’s Care Cottage.
She hopes the Care Cottage will help bring more attention to resources to help the entire family around a patient’s struggles.
Turnasky has fully renovated and furnished a home for families to stay while their loved ones are getting treatment in Lexington.
Rachelle Erickson was the first guest at the cottage four years ago.
“When I stayed there it was 2018. I had lymphoma then. I went to UK for the T-Cell therapy. It was really amazing. It was really restful recovering there at the cottage. The bed slept amazing. It was just a really comforting place to be,” Erickson said.
“We have some incredible memories. Even my daughter who wants to go back. She wants to go back and talks about it and how awesome it was. It’s just a haven and really incredible.”
Turnasky designed the one story home to be as “homey” as possible.
There’s no flashiness to attract attention to the cottage. It’s an unassuming space on the corner of the street in a quiet suburb.
A place where families can feel welcome and comfortable as they navigate a challenging health journey.
“What she provided for us was over and above any expectation that we possibly could’ve had,” Rachelle’s mom Kathy Linde said.
“The love that she showed us and the care that she showed and the very special lady that she is.”
Even as Turnasky herself tours the cottage, she can feel what she hopes to instill in every guest who stays there.
A warmth and care for what they are going through, what she has gone through her entire life.
“Cancer effects the family it doesn’t just effect the individual,” Turnasky said.
“I know what it was like when people reached out to me and helped me. A house made that happen and it’s happening again now.”
Turnasky works closely with Markey Cancer Center in Lexington to help connect with cancer families.