So, I'm not entirely sure how to start this... best to just jump in I suppose.
We are a family of six (which you probably already guessed) consisting of a 27 year old mom, a 30 year old dad and four awesome kiddos- ages 9, 7, 6, and 3. We began looking into the idea of living in an intentional community a couple months ago, but we have some questions and concerns. Here's to hoping some of you awesome people have the answers!
Our situation is a little complicated, as our six year old son was diagnosed with brain cancer on September 1, 2015 and he is still receiving chemotherapy for at least another ten months. We are wondering if living in a community is a viable option for our family. We love the idea of being a part of something bigger than ourselves and the sense of family, accomplishment, and purpose that seems to come from leaving behind the "normal" way of living. We've started trying to live a little simpler, although we aren't exactly wealthy so we live pretty simply anyway. We've started gardening and have all fell in love with it, including Landon (our six year old) who is currently growing cayenne peppers.
We don't have extensive experience with gardening, building, etc, but we are hard-working, willing to learn, and love helping people. We both are currently doing freelance work online and would love to find a place where this would still be possible, even if limited. Eric also brings 10+ years of culinary experience with him, as well as some knowledge of metal working and medicine (his family is almost entirely in the medical profession.) Most of my professional experience is in lead generation, internet research, and data entry but I also bring nine years of being a mom to the table! If there are any communities that would like to accept families, but are lacking designated child care for when parents are required to help around the community, I could help!
We are hoping to find a community within reasonable distance to a hospital in case Landon needs to be admitted or just observed and would of course need to continue his required chemo treatments. His insurance through SSI is accepted nationwide, so that is a plus! A community in Texas or close by would be ideal so that we don't have to travel too far, but so long as Landon can get to a doctor when he needs to we don't really mind where!
Is this possible? Are there certain questions we would want to ask communities? How would we explain this appropriately to doctors and anyone else who may ask? Would we have to worry about living in a community without running water? Can a person with a compromised immune system thrive in an environment such as this, where there are less harmful chemicals and healthier habits? Or is there more of a risk of him getting sick if not in a more controlled environment? His last two X-Rays have shown death of the tumor, as well as overall shrinkage of about 20% in the last eight months. His progress is astounding and we are hoping this is an option for our family, but we wanted to get some advice and opinions from others currently living in communities before we even discussed the option with doctors, family, etc.
*Edit: Previously said our five year old and our six year old... Whoops! Landon is turning six in four days
*Edit 2: Just realized Eric created this account under his name, so it probably looks weird that I said Eric and I! I am Jamie (although I prefer Krystine) and Eric is my husband. We have three boys- Robin, Landon, and Austin and one girl, Abigail (who currently prefers to be called "Sparkarella" for whatever reason...)
Cancer is scary, especially for children. It is great you have each other to provide support to each other.
I am going to say something that most people do not want to say (on this forum). To be as safe as possible, you should stay with your current regiment with the doctors that know you. The intentional communities will still be there after the last treatment. Work the jobs you work and in your spare time learn about intentional communities.
This forum is full of smart, loving, caring people that do want to help. Many will bend over backwards to get you the help you need.
Therefore, I volunteer to be one that does (having gone through some of the same things you have gone through).
This forum is full of advice on how to do things and eat things to prevent cancer from entering your body, I have learned much here. It is also about conservation of energy and leaving a very small and simple footprint. There may even be some success in removing certain cancers that develop in the body. However, when it is your life on the line, sometimes that advice goes out the window in favor of current medicine (which I very much identify with).
For people with families that are homesteading or farming I have two favorite families of 6. Check out Mylittlehomestead , they have all kinds of videos and adventures on their homestead. I would also look at Justin Rhodes family channel on Youtube. Justin's family is younger than the family of mylittlehomestead. All rich in information about homesteading and raising children.
I do not do any of the homesteading stuff but I will try to help anyway I can. Post or PM if you have any other questions.
edit: I forgot about immune compromised stuff. So ... the way I understand it, raw milk should not be on the menu until later. I guess you are to cook everything (even lunch meat). You could double wash your veggies and eat them raw, but most would just cook those too. Doctors like to say things interfere with the medications you will be taking. Some of the interference is just precaution talking but some is real interference. Say for example, you had pills containing Chaga, Turkey Tail and Reshe mushrooms (good for immune system). Doctors would not allow those pills but would probably allow a soup that contains those mushrooms. It is difficult to know what to eat. I would say, at the very least, eat certified organic (and cook it), and at best, permaculture food (and still cook it for the next year). I would also say, do not pee on the compost pile or use a composting toilet. The medications could be transferred into those things.
Permaculture People - Good; Evil People - Bad; Evil Permaculture People - Trolls.
Thank you for the information and advice, although a little disheartening. We are grateful for the response though. We're not entirely sure what comes after chemotherapy as we were just told we were starting with chemo because he is too young for radiation. We hate the idea of radiation though and are hoping there will be another option available when the time comes. We also do still hope that we can find a community before then, although we can definitely see why people would be apprehensive about having our family stay with them.
As far as his current doctors and team, we absolutely love them. No doubt about it! But, we find it increasingly harder to get by the way things are going and the advice given to us is to stay if we can, but if we would get more support and help somewhere else, we should go there. His tumor is an extremely slow growing glioma that has already shrunk apx 20% with chemo and what we're doing here at home. We believe living in a community would provide great benefits as we would be more active for sure, eating healthier, and living a life with purpose.
Currently, we are both working remotely making just enough to pay bills and get by, although there are days we eat once or twice to make sure the kiddos always have food. Eric was working out of the house as a chef, until it became increasingly difficult to get Landon to his appointments, work with him on PT, OT, and ST, and take care of three other children and a house. His boss actually told him that no one had any sympathy left for us and he needed to just be at work doing his job. He felt he had to choose between his job and his family after several months of this.
We feel stuck a lot. His family is at least three hours away, some of them even more. I was in foster care, and so do not have much of a relationship with my family. I think that is what we're looking for. We want a community. We want a family. We have always been extremely helpful and have given our last dollar to others, sheltered people when they had nowhere to go, and just generally try to do what we can to make other people's lives better if we can. And we're tired of living in an environment where instead of it just being a good thing that we are helping our fellow man, we are left feeling guilty and wondering whether or not our helping someone else is going to make it harder for our children or our family as a whole. We're tired of feeling frustrated and scared that our family is not going to make it through this intact.
We have been through entirely too much for one family and we just want what's best for our children. If the best thing is truly to just scrape by financially and have no support system so that our son stays with his doctors and won't have his health compromised further, then that is what we will do. If we can make this work though... even if we're all squished into a 10'X10' space... even if we have to work for hours every day... even if we had to leave the state! If we can make it work... It would be worth it. To feel like we belong.
We are doing our research and we have already learned quite a bit and can't wait to learn more! We're currently discussing what type of home we would like to build initially and what our "dream home" might look like. We're also looking into different methods for water collection, keeping warm, keeping cool, and other basic needs. We are quite amazed at just how many ways there seem to be to handle all of those things!
If you have any other suggestions for videos, books, etc please feel free to let us know! And if anyone would be willing to take on a family with such a complicated situation, even if it might be a ways down the road, let us know too! The kids are extremely excited, as they've been learning right along with us and they keep trying to figure out where we might be going.
Hi Eric, sorry to hear about your situation and struggles. Having such things happen to such young people is always a difficult thing. I had a family member that died of a brain tumor when they were young and it is a very hard thing to deal with, including the trauma that occurred before they died.
In regards to asking others for help, starting a new relationship is usually best done when the relationship is relatively equal. It may not be true but there seems to be an implied burden in accepting you. If its not true then a rewording of your request may help I think. If the burden is true then you may limit who will be interested but there are a lot of caring people out there that have the energy to help families like yours and I hope you can find someone.
I'm not sure if this is the best way to say this, I'm not the most delicate person and if I have offended you I apologize. Good luck and keep up the learning if you want this lifestyle, it will pay dividends whenever it does happen for your family.
I know this is late but Happy Birthday Landon!! Hope you had good one. I had my 5th birthday in Bellair which in 1955 was a small sort of rural town, as I remember it. Last time I was through Houston the only way I knew I had got to Bellair was the road sign! As I was cleaning in my shop today I found a toy my wife made and if y'all will pm your mailing address to me I will put it in the mail.
Eric, a really good book to read if you're planning to join an intentional community is Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian, which talks about why most intentional communities fail and why some succeed. It might help you in evaluating communities you look at, or help you to think about alternatives such as land sharing.
I hope things are going well for your beautiful family. My friends at nutritional solutions webpage specialize in permaculture type solutions for healing from the ravages of cancer and modern cancer treatments. They are very kind and knowledgable about the many aspects of holistic, nutrition based recovery. I hope they can help you to implement a strategy that can help you, your son and the rest of your family to take full advantage of the many paths to healing that our blessed mother provides.
. The children's hospital in Birmingham AL is known for their excellent care of children with cancer and there's an intentional community within driving distance from the hospital.
However if I were in your situation and determined to move I would try to find some of the best specialists of your child's type of cancer and then Google for communities close to one of those doctors accepting new patients.
I also wouldn't move without discussing it with your child's current doctor. A move may very likely need to be coordinated between episodes of being well as moving is both psychologically and physically taxing.
Best of luck to you all. Your family is lovely!
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