Rachael Joines doesn’t want a filthy house, but sometimes she just has something better to do.
“I would say that I have different priorities now,” she said. “Do I have the energy to play with my 6-year-old son, or do I sweep and mop and clean the bathroom? After you have surgery you just can’t.”
Joines is 29-years-old and she has stage 4 breast cancer, something she was diagnosed with when she was 24. The disease has spread to her lungs, and her treatment doesn’t stop. She said when she has felt good enough to clean her home, she does, but when she doesn’t, she has been happy to receive the services of Simple Custodial Services in Longview, which has provided her with some free housecleaning services.
Simple Custodial Services is linked up with Cleaning for a Reason, a nonprofit organization based in Lewisville that gives the gift of free house cleaning to women undergoing any type of cancer. Cleaning for a Reason serves the United States and Canada, providing up to two free house cleanings for women with cancer, based on the availability of services in a specific area.
“This cancer crap is up and down. Some months I’m feeling good enough and can do it, and another month I am having chemo and surgery and they have stepped up and done the things I can’t do,” Joines said. “I am thankful to them because not many people would come into your house and clean it for free. They are just an impeccable cleaning service who cares for the community and the ladies who are in it.”
Joines said when she had a double mastectomy, she couldn’t clean because she couldn’t rip the stitches. When she is undergoing radiation she cannot do the dishes or fold laundry because her skin is falling off. Going through an illness such cancer that presents so many barriers to completing daily tasks means she needs extra help, and the free cleaning services come in handy.
“Family and friends help but at certain times they have their own lives to go back to,” she said.
Juliette Graves, who owns Simple Custodial Services, said she found about Cleaning for a Reason in 2016 and contacted the organization on Facebook to see if her company could become a partner. She said her own experience with cancer is the reason she reached out to the national nonprofit.
“This was close to my heart because I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that ended up being benign,” Graves said. Still, she went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments and met other people in similar circumstances. “At that part of life you think, ‘Why did you get sick,’ and you don’t know what is going to happen and you kind of get mad, but then you meet others who don’t know whether they are going to live or die and I found out I didn’t have it that bad.”
Graves said one particular patient, a teenager who was undergoing cancer treatments, touched her the most.
“Whenever she came to treatments she was so positive, and I realized I didn’t have it that bad and it changed my whole view,” she said. “I think everything happens for a reason and I realized when I got this tumor — God had a plan, and I realize it’s not always about me. It’s about other people.”
Candy Palmer, franchise owner of Merry Maids in Longview and Tyler, said she became well aware of the challenges of life while going through cancer treatments because her mom, Hilda Wallin, and her mother-in-law, Mary Ann Palmer, are both breast cancer survivors. Her franchise has been offering free cleaning services through Cleaning for a Reason for the past five years.
“While these women fight and battle through treatment, we can fight the dust bunnies, pet hair, soap scum and more,” she said. “One of our clients recently lost (her) battle here on earth, yet she and her friends and family were so grateful for the blessing because we made a significant difference in the lives of each of them. It is not only a gift for the cancer patient, but for the entire family and their closet friends. Allowing us to to take care of the home for free relieves a financial burden and gives them the gift of time together which is simply priceless.”
Women with cancer who are interested in having their homes cleaned should contact Cleaning for a Reason directly and fill out the necessary forms at cleaningforareason.org.