Anna Lark first learned of Family House in 2001 when her older brother Josh was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Because of the severity of his diagnosis, Josh was immediately referred to UCSF Medical Center. Coming from the Central Valley, the Larks were not prepared to split their family up by the distance and thankfully within a week of Josh’s transfer, all seven of the Larks had moved in to the 2nd Ave House. Mom and Dad, Anna and her sister, Josh and two other brothers were all welcomed into the house and stayed there on and off for over a year and half. In that time, Anna remembers that the entire Family House staff was always there for them. The other families were a great source of support and the house was filled with positive and comforting energy.
After Anna and her sister donated two rounds of stem cell transfers, Josh began to get better. He was released from UCSF Medical Center in 2008 and the family returned home. Unfortunately, shortly after Josh was doing better, Anna’s mom received devastating news. She had a brain tumor, lung cancer and 3rd stage breast cancer. She fought strongly through chemotherapy and radiation but died in April 2004.
More bad news came Josh’s way when he had to return to UCSF with his dad for more treatment. Anna and the rest of her siblings were able to again stay at Family House, this time for about two months. Now being a single parent family working off a teacher’s salary, the Larks were extremely thankful for what Family House was able to provide for them. Shelter, food and kindness do not even seem to cover it. Anna and her family were guests of honors at benefits; they were invited to movie premieres and had lots of exciting experiences at baseball games and music concerts.
Josh is in remission now and doing great. He is a happy and healthy college student, as is Anna. She has returned to San Francisco and Family House is now lucky enough to have her as a volunteer. Anna says she has nothing but gratitude for the people at Family House because they brought the comfort of a home to her and her family when they really needed it.
After experiencing Family House as a resident, Anna now chooses to volunteer her time and special skills. Coming from a family of artists, Anna has been doing monthly art therapy sessions in the houses. She hopes to bump it up to twice a month because she just can’t get enough! Doing art with the families is a great way to release emotions and it is a fun and creative activity that can allow the parents a bit of a break too. Anna understands a lot of what these families are going through and we at Family House appreciate so much that she has come back to help out! Anna hopes that by sharing her story, more and more people will become aware of the wonderful things this organization is doing, and hopefully more and more people will be inspired to help.