25 Dec Craig’s Story
For the first time in years I am stable, sober and happy.
For almost 40 years of my life I struggled with alcohol addiction and for the last three years of that, I was homeless. When I was 15 years old I lost both my parents and only siblings in a car accident. With no family to take me in, I was moved into foster care, where I was first introduced to alcohol.
I worked hard my whole life and became a successful journeyman, carpenter and cabinet maker. However, I continued to experience loss in my life, and with every loss my addiction worsened. In 2011, I was unexpectedly let go from my job, and became homeless. Over the next three years I struggled to find stable housing, staying in shelters, homemade camps and rat-infested apartments.
In the fall of 2013, I started to feel unwell. Two months later I was evicted from my apartment and this is when my life took another unexpected turn and my journey of healing began.
One night I was found unconscious by a police officer in a park and was brought to the hospital. The doctor at the hospital knew something was wrong with me and ordered an x-ray, and that was when they found the tumors. He told me the only way I could be treated was if I went to detox. Six months after my first night in detox, I moved into Pacifica Housing’s supportive housing complex, Uplands Walk. I was afraid that my new housing was too good to be true and it took three months before I would unpack. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Once in Uplands I started more medical testing and in summer 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. Being told I have cancer made me ask myself, “why now”? It made me look at my life differently; and with people being so nice to me, it gave me a new perspective. It’s been a year and a half since my cancer diagnosis.
I am in active recovery and free from my addiction. I didn’t start growing until I got here [Uplands Walk], and it’s because I have my own space, a safe space, and the support of Pacifica staff. For me, it wasn’t the staff supporting me with day-to-day things like help with medical appointments that had the biggest impact. The biggest thing staff helped me with was acknowledging that I am alive and helping me feel that I am worthy. They are like the family that I needed, and it has made all the difference in the world.
I am beginning a new type of cancer treatment in a week, and the only reason I feel comfortable with this new treatment program is because I live in Uplands where I have the support I need to deal with any health complications that may come up as a result of side effects. Having someone to talk to whenever I need, and knowing there are people there to help me has given me the courage to deal with the difficult things in my life.
Having some say in my life is empowering. People don’t realize how important it is to have a place to live. Everyone deserves a place to live.