Helene and June Swank: their story

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    • Helene Swank and her mother, June Swank, have been through so much together, including their battles with cancer. Mary’s Place by the Sea was able to offer these women a time and place to take their mother-daughter bonding to a new level."
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  • In the words of Helene:
    Spending time with my Mom has always been important to me and I have always valued our relationship. We laugh uncontrollably over the craziest things and have been there for each other as we both have faced cancer. When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer in 2016, I thought my life was over. I struggled with all that came with the journey of facing cancer.

  • What made my challenges more bearable was knowing Mom, who was a 13-year breast cancer survivor at the time, had been through it all as well. She explained reactions that I just couldn’t understand. She held my hand as I cried and feared dying. She made me laugh when I needed to, and she made sure I was never alone, even though I was also supported by amazing friends, family and an incredible spouse.

  • I was on my way to recovery late 2017 when I was informed that Mom had stage 4 breast cancer. It had spread to her bones. Not again! It just wasn’t fair. I told my Mom we would face this together; I would be there for her, like she was for me.
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  • When Christmas 2017 was approaching, I realized there is no greater gift than time and memories with my mom. Cancer teaches a fast lesson about the meaning of life and what’s truly important. I had heard about Mary’s Place by the Sea from a fellow runner who fundraises for Mary’s Place, and I decided to book a stay for my mom and me. I was still trying to find my place in the world after a very difficult year, and Mom had just found out that her cancer had returned. We watched the video about Mary’s Place and we both felt the magic. We knew these ladies and this home would not only give us quality time together, but also help us to understand the journey behind us, and what lies ahead of us.
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  • Mary’s Place was so much more than we could ever envision, and exactly what we both needed. The volunteers were true angels; we felt the warmth and welcome the minute we stepped through the door. Being near the ocean simply added to the serenity and peace that was provided. The plant-based meals were nutritious and incredibly tasty. Bonding with other women with cancer helped validate so much I had been feeling. Our group centered around staying positive and supporting one another.
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  • Mary’s Place embraced Mom and me and gave us an experience that we will never forget. We learned about each other and we further treasure what we share because of this experience. Mary’s Place gave a whole new perspective to mother/daughter bonding. My mom has always taught me that the joy is found in the journey. Although cancer is not something any mother and daughter should have to go through together, this journey has brought me everlasting memories with my hero.
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  • In the words of June:
    Staying at Mary’s Place is one of the best things my daughter and I could do. I am continually thinking about the special bonding experience that Helene and I had. The warmth and care we experienced inside of Mary’s Place could not be matched, and we made friends with whom we are still in contact with today. I’m in treatment for stage 4 metastatic Breast Cancer, and the peaceful feeling that I had inside the doors of Mary’s Place, along with all of the information I received, was just what we were looking for! Thank you for allowing us to share this wonderful experience with one another.