by Aaron Sutter
Jill’s House, Inc. is an independent 501(c)3 organization, established in response to a need for temporary housing for out-of-town patients receiving cancer treatment at the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute (MPRI) in Bloomington, Indiana.
Similar to a Ronald McDonald House or Hope Lodge, Jill’s House has been specifically designed to provide a comfortable residence and support center for outpatients of MPRI (and their accompanying caregivers), and is conveniently located within walking distance.
Jill’s House, Inc. is named in honor of Jill Behrman, an Indiana University student and beloved Bloomington resident. She was abducted while riding her bicycle on the morning of May 31, 2000. Her remains were found in a wooded area northwest of Bloomington nearly three years later. In remembering Jill Behrman, and the anguish associated with her disappearance, Jill’s House strives to be a place of comfort and peace for others who are suffering.
The mission of Jill’s House, Inc. is to provide affordable temporary housing in a home-like environment for caregivers and patients receiving medical treatment at the IU Health Proton Therapy Center and other area health care facilities.
What is the IU Health Proton Therapy Center?
Proton therapy is a unique treatment for cancer and tumors that has proved to be as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, other forms of cancer treatments. It is a highly precise, noninvasive, nonsurgical procedure. It targets the tumor and causes minimal damage to surrounding tissues, as compared to conventional therapy. The results are highly effective and the side effects are generally minimal or nonexistent.
The IU Health Proton Therapy Center, in Bloomington, IN, is one of only ten proton therapy centers in operation in the United States and is the first proton facility in the Midwest. The Proton Therapy Center is an affiliate of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Institute and Riley Hospital for Children, which have been ranked among America’s elite medical centers by U.S. News & World Report for 14 consecutive years. The IU Health Proton Center is associated with the Indiana University Cyclotron Operations, which conducts research in nuclear physics, nuclear chemistry, accelerator physics, condensed matter, and the life sciences.
Why is This Important to Me?
Giving to Jill’s House was an easy decision for me for a few personal reasons. I attended IU when Jill Behrman went missing, throughout the entire three years that she was searched for, and when her remains were finally found. It’s an event that I really identify with when thinking about my time in college and in Bloomington.
In a much closer experience, I have close friends that have personally experienced the benefits of Jill’s House. Zach and Stephanie Weisheit are two of my closest friends who had their son, Eli, diagnosed with a Malignant Rhabdoid Tumor in October of 2010, two days after his 2nd birthday. After nine rounds of chemotherapy and countless trips from Evansville to Indianapolis to Riley Children’s Hospital, Eli was put on a 6-week treatment plan at the IU Health Proton Therapy Center beginning on June 14th, 2011. With 31 days of radiation scheduled over that 6 week period, it was going to be very difficult for the Weisheit’s to make the 2 ½ trek from Evansville to Bloomington five days per week. This is where Jill’s House stepped in.
The Weisheit’s moved in to Jill’s House on June 13th, 2011 to begin the 6-weeks of radiation treatment. Jill’s House was able to provide them with a ‘home-away-from-home’ while they were going through one of the most difficult times of their life. Jill’s House was able to provide them with just a little bit of comfort and normalcy during an otherwise very stressful situation. On August 2nd, 2011, Eli completed his last of 31 radiation treatments and began his journey to remission. As of August 2013, Eli was officially two years cancer-free. He’ll continue to have periodic MRIs for 5 years and can officially be considered in remission on his 7th birthday.
How Can We Help?
With Cornerstone’s donation, it will help Jill’s House continue to give a hand up to people like the Weisheit’s, who want to receive some of the country’s best cancer treatment, but still maintain some sense of normalcy and home atmosphere for their family.
Jill’s House – http://www.jills-house.org/
IU Health Proton Therapy Center – http://iuhealthprotontherapy.org/about/
Eli Weisheit’s Caring Bridge Page – http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eliweisheit
Eli the Conqueror’s Story – http://vimeo.com/46763647