A Ticket Forward wrote -
From Survivor to Supporter, an RSVP to a timeless German tradition
Name: Carrie Likeness
Lives: Los Angeles, CA
Dream Destination: Bavaria, Germany
Travel Companion: Her two sons, Keegan and Kyle, her partner Mark and his son Logan
Carrie Likeness’ life seems pretty good. At 44 years old, this mother of two is working to complete her hours for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She lives in Los Angeles, and interns as a clinical therapist at Cancer Support Community Benjamin Center, an affiliate of an international network that provides free psychosocial support to people with cancer and their loved ones. In 2008, she reunited with her high school boyfriend, Mark, after 23 years apart. Carrie’s two sons are each thriving in college, and Mark’s son is college-bound next year. The future looks bright for Carrie.
There was a time, though, when Carrie could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Her first marriage ended in divorce. At 31, she found herself alone, living miles away from family, and struggling to raise her two young sons. Then came the diagnosis: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. With very little support, she was soon financially and emotionally dismantled. A year after diagnosis, she entered remission but hardships remained as she relied on disability payments.
Travel was an impossible dream for Carrie and her family. In 2006, a friend invited her to visit in Germany during Oktoberfest. Carrie thought about accepting the invitation, shared it with her sons, and they dared to dream of visiting the German country-side. Reality was, Carrie was not prepared financially to make the trip. Their dreams gave way to disappointment, as Carrie struggled to overcome the more immediate challenges in her life that come with a cancer diagnosis.
Despite financial and medical setbacks, Carrie worked hard to make life better. She discovered a passion for creative writing and psychology, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in 2013, and her Master’s Degree in 2014. Now she uses her experience to help others. At Cancer Support Community Benjamin Center she helps people affected by cancer fight loss of control, loss of hope, and unwanted aloneness. She knows first-hand how vital this support can be. CSC offers group and individual support, healthy lifestyle classes and education to patients, caregivers and the bereaved and Carrie is a valued member of CSC’s intern team.
At the outset of graduate school, in hope of one day celebrating her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, Carrie’s family glued a handwritten label on a Planter’s Peanut jar that read, "Vacation Fund”. Sadly, two years later she reports that, “only $6 in loose change remains.”
For someone who knows what it’s like to face hardship alone, Carrie has made it her life’s work to support and uplift others. Carrie remains reliant on disability payments, for now, and soon, she will begin repaying her college loans. As a result, her peanut jar still stands almost empty, but you can change that. Toss a couple bucks her way. Support her, as she supports so many, and help her make that dream on the shelf come true.