By Fox 59’s Charlene Cristobal
Charlene Wingate was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. It’s the same cancer that took the life of her mother. After her diagnosis, she described herself as broken.
“You can’t just have a conversation with people on the street about your condition or even have someone to talk to about your prognosis,” said Wingate.
Someone referred her to Little Red Door to help her get to and from her appointments, and it changed everything.
“They gave me not only transportation, but they gave me other areas…that I needed—they pointed me there,” said Wingate. “So, I began to heal even through my radiation; even through my surgery, I began to heal stage by stage.”
Wingate says Little Red Door gave her more than just the resources to help her through her diagnosis—it helped her find a place where she belonged. She said the therapies offered at Little Red Door have helped her in her everyday life.
“Yoga has helped me to become less [stressed], and the yoga has often offered through the gift of breathing to release a lot of tension,” explained Charlene. “The cooking classes that are offered are an extraordinary experience of teaching you how to be more healthy and teaching you how to take everyday tasks and make them a part of your life, not just through your cancer diagnosis, but through the many stages that will progress in your life.”
Little Red Door offers a variety of therapies to cancer patients including yoga, cooking classes and massages. Wingate takes advantage of every single one of them, and now she’s become somewhat of a regular there.
“Charlene’s awesome, we love her here, and she’s pretty integral to our community here,” said Amanda Wolfe, director of client services at Little Red Door. “She comes regularly, a couple of times…two to three times a week to do fitness classes, our yoga, she gets massages, she participates in our nutrition stuff—a lot of our social activities, Charlene is there.”
She’s even become a friendly face to everyone at Little Red Door, including the staff. Wolfe says Charlene really puts people at ease.
“She’s great for that positive peer pressure for the fitness classes because she does all of them and has benefited from that and gotten stronger and healthier, I think she would tell you,” said Wolfe. “You have a friend immediately.”
For Wingate, Little Red Door is more than just a place that helped heal her. She says, in a way, Little Red Door saved her life.
“I couldn’t even give you enough words to express it because it is such a wonderful place,” said Wingate. “Not even just what you come it to get but the gift of what they give to you, it extends beyond all you could ask or think. It’s a gift from God, and it extends beyond all knowledge because it’s the love and the mercy that they give you that makes you whole again. You can’t explain it.”
Wingate wants other cancer patients to feel that wholeness. She wants others to know that even though your diagnosis and your fight with cancer may break you, there are places like Little Red Door that are there to help you feel whole again.
“The first day I walked through Red Door, I felt something that I had not felt,” she said. “All the brokenness…with the conversations that I began to know someone could help me. After several months of great success, with my surgery and with coming with the massages, and being able to come in and stretch with the yoga and just have conversations…my life became whole again.”