Posted on December 14, 2010
December’s Story of Hope comes out of VSH’s newest supportive housing development, South Bay in Portsmouth. To read a recent article published in the Virginia Pilot about this new complex, click here.
Lisa White had worked most of her adult life. As a nursing assistant she had a steady employment history including more than 5 years at Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth, VA.
In 1998, Lisa decided to enlist in the military as a Merchant Seaman. Over the next five years, her travels took her to various places around the world including Italy, Dubai and Bahrain. In 2000, she became a first time homeowner. Life was good.
It was on one of her deployments to Dubai in 2004 when became ill. She was sent stateside and for the next 4 months underwent various tests to determine the cause of her illness. It was then that Lisa learned at the age of 39 that she had with colon cancer.
Since receiving her diagnosis, Lisa has had five surgeries, chemotherapy treatments and dozens of return trips to the hospital for follow-up care and pain management. “There have been times when I was so weak that I couldn’t stand up and nurses had to come to my home,” said White.
As a result of her illness, Lisa has been unable to work and her only source of income is a disability pension of approximately $800 a month. In June of 2010 she lost her home because she could no longer make the payments and still pay for her health insurance and medicines and buy food.
Lisa spent the next year and a half homeless and either sleeping in her car or at a temporary shelter for a few nights at a time. “I was constantly moving around taking one day at a time. Not only was I homeless, I was really sick and had a very weak immune system,” commented White. Recently, doctors advised Lisa that her kidneys are starting to fail and that she will likely require dialysis treatments.
Fortunately she was accepted as one of the first resident to move into permanent housing at South Bay Supportive Apartments in early November. “I feel like I have had a heavy load lifted off of my shoulders. I don’t have to worry anymore. I am finally able to be content,” she said.