Susan-Marie and Jim


Jim and Susan-Marie are campground hosts in Gualala, California. They spend their days amongst the redwoods, rivers, and beaches of Northern California. “We really love living in beauty,” says Susan.

In July 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jim’s doctor spotted a tumor on his upper right lung. He was immediately transferred to Stanford University Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. As the cancer had spread quickly and was unable to be removed, Jim began a new three-week treatment to directly target the cancer.

Susan-Marie was referred to JW House by Stanford, as she needed long-term accommodations to stay close to her husband throughout his treatment. When Susan-Marie first visited JW House, it reminded her of a beautiful lodge in the mountains. “It was a quiet, peaceful, supporting, loving place. I really needed that after spending every day at the hospital.”

Throughout Jim’s three-week treatment, as well as three more weeks of rehab at Palo Alto Rehabilitation Center, Susan-Marie was able to stay overnight at JW House and visit Jim daily. Susan-Marie and Jim’s two daughters and son were also able to stay at JW House as they visited their father in the hospital. It relieved financial stressors for the family, and allowed them to focus on their husband and father recovering. “It gave me the rest, peace of mind, knowing that I’m not alone, and the time to sort things out, and take care of me so I can take care of him.”

What Susan-Marie and Jim say was the biggest relief was feeling safe at JW House. On top of an unexpected cancer diagnosis and everything happening so quickly, the hospital experience was scarier than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic. JW House felt safe for Susan-Marie, and Jim was comforted knowing his wife was taken care of.

Jim finished his rehab in late August and the couple was able to return home to Gualala. “I’m still weak, tired, and fatigued but I’m alive and functional.” JW House continues to be a ‘home away from home’ for Susan-Marie and Jim as they return for appointments and treatments, and we look forward to sharing Jim’s progress as he recovers.

Susan-Marie and Jim are featured in our 2020 Holiday Giving Campaign.

Click here to visit the campaign!