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Tessie and her trailer

Taylor Eisenman, of the Record staff

Tessie Palczynski, the post-high school special education transition coordinator at the Park City Learning Center, found out she had a brain tumor in 2002. At the same time, her friend, Mar Harmer, found a tumor in her breast.

Palczynski’s brain tumor was benign, but, unfortunately, Harmer’s was not. Palczynski’s good friend had cancer, and she asked Palcznski to accompany her to a Huntsman Cancer support group. That day changed Palczynski’s life.

"I was uncomfortable and didn’t want to go to the support group at first," Palczynski said. But as she sat and listened to the group’s members open their hearts and embrace each other and life, she said she began to realize that this was not a group of sick people, but, rather, people who just happen to be sick.

Later, when Harmer called Palczynski to see if she could come to a Women Beyond Cancer retreat because they were short on volunteers, Palczynski was still a little reluctant, but she said yes.

Palczynski was inspired by her experiences at the retreat. She said she wanted to go beyond outreach programs and volunteering and visiting. And that is where the idea for the trailer began.

"I heard of so many people traveling to hospitals for treatment who needed a free place to stay," she said. For years, she dreamt of providing a mobile home-away-from-home for cancer patients. And then, this past April, Chris Powers, owner of Two Sisters Farm, wrote Palczynski a check for $1,000 as a challenge for her to do it.

Powers lost her sister to cancer two years ago. The event spurred her to get into her car and head north. She drove from Palo Alto, Cal., to Aiken, S.C. There she bought 50 acres of farmland surrounded by a state park. Powers now hosts retreats for cancer patients, which is where she first met Palczynski.

"She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met," Powers said. "She just never stops giving.

That first $1,000 was just the push Palczynski needed. She began to write letters to companies and organizations. Several local companies, including Brother’s Bikes and Dakota Mountain Lodge stepped up and gave to the cause.

Karen Hindin, of Dakota Mountain Lodge and the Golden Door Spa, said she learned about the trailer while she was on the board for Women Beyond Cancer, and she thought it was a wonderful opportunity for cancer patients to have a place to retreat to and rest during treatments.

Last month, Palczynski’s dream was finally realized. The trailer, named Tabatha because it is a tab trailer, was decaled and ready for use. Inside, there’s a queen-size bed, kitchen area with stove and a journal in which Palczynski hopes people will share their experiences.

"You can’t know what the gifts of cancer are, until you’ve experience it," Palczynski said. Her friend, Harmer, just celebrated her fifth year of being cancer-free, and Palczynski has already received her first inquiry about the trailer.

"It’s here, and now I just can’t wait to see what happens," she said.

For more information about using the trailer, Tabatha, contact Palczynski at tessiep14@gmail.com.


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