When Suzanne Khoshnaw felt the lump in her four-year-old son’s neck, she knew something was very wrong.
Suzanne was no stranger to hospital visits. Within 48 hours of his birth in December 2017, Yunis stopped breathing and fell into a coma. After significant tests and multiple nights in the hospital, doctors diagnosed him with Citrullinemia. Following a liver transplant and life-saving medication, Yunis was on the mend and hadn’t experienced medical issues for three years — until Suzanne found the lump.
Nothing could have prepared her for this.
“I got the words that no parent should ever have to hear,” said Suzanne, describing the many visits with doctors. “Your son has cancer.”
The news, naturally, hit Suzanne hard.
“I felt so helpless,” she recalled. “Once again, my son had a serious, life-threatening condition… and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Yunis’s treatment was intense, says Suzanne. Chemo was harsh, and it was difficult for him to understand why he was in so much pain, why he was having trouble walking or eating, or why he couldn’t play with other kids.
For Yunis, Suzanne, and their family, however, there was hope on the horizon in the form of a peaceful retreat to JoyRx Nature’s Alexandra Ellis Caring Cabin in Pacific City, Oregon.
A chance for relief
When Suzanne and her family stepped into the Caring Cabin for the first time, they were instantly transported to a world away — a tranquil space just for them.
And what was first on the agenda?
“We relaxed!” said Suzanne. “I told my family we were going to this place to just forget about worries of life and enjoy being in the moment. Literally.”
The family played family board games, ran around the courtyard, rode their bikes, watched movies, and prepared meals together.
“We just got to spend time together with nothing else on our minds,” said Suzanne.
For families like Suzanne’s, the simplicity and luxury to think about nothing, to simply relax and spend a weekend together, is priceless.
“We loved every minute of it,” said Suzanne.
According to Suzanne, Yunis enjoyed performing music on the guitar, playing in the game room, and chasing his sisters around the house.
The Caring Cabin proved inspirational for the family, too.
“The stories and different mementos put us at ease,” said Suzanne. “It helped to know that we were not alone in our cancer journey. Together, we can inspire and bring each other’s hopes up. Reading about other people’s stories helped us overcome our fears.”
Coming home refreshed
Even weeks after their visit, Suzanne credits JoyRx for a transformation in her family.
“My children had a blast,” said Suzanne. “I never thought that so many months after a cancer diagnosis, we would be having so much fun!”
The change in Yunis is especially clear.
“He’s becoming his fun, energetic, happy, and oh-so-social self again,” Suzanne enthused. “Now, he high-fives random strangers, runs around the park, rides his little car, loves to dance, and loves to sing.”
For Suzanne, there’s no greater gift.
“He brings Joy to all of us just by being his silly, outgoing self,” said Suzanne.
At the heart of it, Suzanne knows that the visit to the Caring Cabin did more than give her children a fun weekend — it was a cumulation of small acts of kindness leading to a larger sense of peace, healing, and Joy.
“The simplest things in life can be so hard to do while a family member is sick,” she said. “Doing or giving the smallest thing makes a huge difference. We are forever grateful!”
You can help more families like Suzanne’s enjoy the Caring Cabin at no-cost to them by donating today. Your support makes this Joy possible!