A cancer diagnosis is hard enough without having to worry about who will do the dusting or the dishes. That's why a local maid service has started trying to do what they can to help women with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Cleaning for a Reason is a non-profit organization started in spring 2006 in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Since its founding, the organization has offered more than a million dollars in cleaning services via nearly 1,000 participating companies spread across the country.
"A good life is to somehow contribute. This is such an easy way to help. We're already cleaning houses," explains Nicole Hubbard, the owner of Hubbard's Maid Service in Savannah.
She found out about Cleaning for a Reason several years ago and immediately fell in love with the idea.
Standing in her kitchen, Hubbard flips through the pages of a three-ring binder, recalling names of women she and her team have helped. Several names draw responses from the four women seated at the kitchen table.
"Everytime I left I would start crying because she was so sick," says Shirley Susen, remembering one of the women for whom she'd done cleanings. "She was a wonderful woman."
Susen and her co-workers, Maryellen White, Miranda Dixon and Amanda Strong, have been on the frontlines of helping fellow women in need - something that's made the oftentimes thankless task of cleaning more meaningful than they could have imagined previously.
"You go in with a different attitude," says Strong, as they talk about the joy of helping others. Sometimes the greatest service is being there, rather than actually cleaning, particularly when they meet women who have to fight their diagnosis alone.
"They don't want you to feel sorry for them," adds White. "They'll smile ear to ear just to have someone in there."
The regular contact with cancer patients has been a lesson of its own. They've helped women young and old alike who've been ravaged by disease.
"I don't know how to describe the pain of watching a mother watch her child die," says Hubbard. "There's no words."
It's made them more cognizant of their own health as a result. Strong had just had a mammogram the day before after much urging from her co-workers to get a check up.
"Early detection, that's the key," she says.
Over the last two years, Hubbard's Maid Service has helped 20 women, offering them four free cleanings while they are receiving chemo. The women unanimously agree that they want to help more, and part of that has been an effort to spread the word that the service is available.
For Susen, the opportunity has been highly personal. She lost both her parents to cancer, and her sister is a breast cancer survivor.
"I understand what they're going through," she explains. "This is giving back."
For Hubbard, it's also been highly inspirational, and Debbie Sardone, who founded Cleaning for a Reason, has become a mentor for her.
"What she told me that really rang in my head was, "I can't help everybody, but I can help somebody." I just think that's a wise philosophy," Hubbard says.
Above all, it seems to have made her thankful.
"What is it for us to donate some cleanings for free for women who are losing their hair, losing their eyelashes or their eyebrows; losing anything that is feminine about them?" She asks. "If we can go in and clean their house, which most women strongly identify with, and let them feel a little bit of control for a couple of hours, it's well worth it."
For more information on Cleaning for a Reason, or if you would like to be eligible for their assistance, visit www.cleaningforareason.org.