A winding road to health
And the challenges of staying housed
Carl Pendleton has a new lease on life. He’s on the other side of leukemia and a life-saving bone marrow transplant for which he had a thirty percent chance of survival.
That was two and a half years ago.
Today, Carl is cancer free and eight months on from heart surgery. He works part-time driving a truck for a concrete-mixing company on the Sunshine Coast, where he’s lived since the early 80s.
“When I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, it quickly progressed to leukemia, and they gave me between three months and three years to live,” recalls the 56-year-old. “The heart issue was also there at that time but they didn’t want to do it first because I wouldn’t have survived the transplant; my body wouldn’t be able to handle it in that order.”
After an extended stay at Vancouver General Hospital, Carl returned home to financial hardship. “I had exhausted any kind of resources that I had. I was just getting onto my disability benefits but they weren’t enough to take care of all my bills and, because I was so sick, I couldn’t work. I kept falling behind.”
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do—and then somehow I came across the rent bank in Sechelt,” he says.
Carl doesn’t remember how he learned about the rent bank, which is operated by the non-profit Sunshine Coast Community Services Society and serves people from Langdale to Egmont, but he’s certain that it was what kept him housed during his recovery.
And that is precisely what rent banks do: they help to keep people housed by providing small, interest-free loans to low-to-moderate income renters who have unanticipated expenses or emergencies that impact their ability to pay rent or utilities.
“I was going through such a rough time. I was really lost and they were there for me. I had nowhere else to go, and didn’t know what to do,” Carl remembers.
Throughout all of these challenges, Carl has remained housed in a mobile home park in Gibsons. He pays $470 a month for the pad rental, while the trailer where he sleeps was lent to him by extended family.
His income is stable, and he has fully repaid his $1,300 loan, making him the first client of the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society’s rent bank to do so. He accomplished that by making $55 monthly payments over 24 months.
And Carl knows the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society is happy to help again should he ever need it. “I have been very lucky,” he says. “I haven’t had to do that.”
Carl is also incredibly grateful for his health. “My heart is fixed. I have new bone marrow, producing blood as it should be, and I’ve been given my life back. I don’t know how you thank someone for that.”