photo of Teisha Helgerson
photo by sherri diteman kaven

Families helping family is the theme of Teisha’s Place for 2018. Six more remarkable families shared their stories and became part of the living history of this special home where patients and their caregivers live free of charge for as long as they need in order to recover from a life saving transplant to cure leukemia and lymphoma.

Belinda, age 58, arrived just days after Christmas 2017 and returned to Independence Oregon on January 13, 2018. Her girlfriend was a nurse and volunteered to be her caregiver during her recovery from her transplant for Mantel Cell Lymphoma.

Jon, age 30, and his remarkable wife Michelle and their four children stayed from January 17 to April 20, 2018. Talk about it takes a village. All four of Jon’s children at that time were under 3 years of age. Jon had just adopted a pair of twins and had a three year old daughter, and a one year old son before he was diagnosed and entered treatment for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia AML). His mom and dad were caregivers during the week then drove to Sheridan to watch the babies so that Michelle could join her husband on the weekends and take care of the care-giving. And when he was far enough along and none of the kids had colds they came to visit for a few days and the house was big enough for everyone.

Ruby, age 20, had her second year in college rudely interrupted by Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). Her wonderful large family came to help prepare the house and to greet her when she was released from OHSU to Teisha’s on April 22nd. Her cousin was her donor and it was an honor to meet him too. Doing well, she returned to Salem on July 14, 2018.

Pedro P., age 67, had a perfect match lined up but they withdrew just days before his transplant was scheduled. His daughter Alma stepped up and became his donor as a 50% match. Pedro was already in the hospital undergoing chemo and radiation in preparation for the transplant when all of this happened but Alma and her mom stayed at Teisha’s while Alma donated cells from July 24 to August 5th. This was another beautiful and loving family dealing with the stress of a love one in a medical crisis. Pedro was doing well when I last talked with Alma and they are back in Medford.

Vanessa, Mosier Oregon, celebrated her 27th birthday while at Teisha’s. Her Mom was her donor. Two girlfriends were her caregivers from August 11 to November 10 so that Mom could return home and keep the family restaurant business going. Vanessa did some art work and left it at the house. I am inspired to have an art show event sometime next year. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Pedro C., from White City, is 40 and his brother is his donor and caregiver. He arrived on November 19 and is expected to be at Teisha's Place until March, 2019.

Teisha Place had its' start in 2012 as a way for me to hang on during the heavy grief of losing Teisha. I write with gratitude to the families that stay at the house and to donors who help keep the house going. Teisha has a legacy that is providing something profoundly good in this world.

Mark your calendar for a benefit concert on January 30, 2019 by Michael Allen Harrison. This exceptional American composer and founder of the Snowman Foundation and Play It Forward and Ten Grands is putting on a concert for Peace Lutheran Church benevolent fund to benefit Teisha's Place.
Concert is at 7 p.m., and a light supper provided at 6 p.m. RSVP's appreciated for a dinner count. Send me an email at

Happy Holidays,
Teisha's Mom

PS: Families and friends deserve special recognition for the boost you gave Teisha's Place in 2018. Here are the highlights:

Donors Lucia Shin, Roger Martin, Kami Gray, Earline and Tiffany Penson, Mike Hasson, Jay Tinski, Harland and Peggy Helgerson, Carol Jacoby, Jennifer Lee, Mary Miller and Miles Faulkner, Margaret Mott, Grant and Cindy Norlin, Jim Poplack, Sydney Power, Philip Rothrock, Berry and Judy Scruggs, Ned Stafford, Robyn Tenebaum, Bill and KK Thackery, Barry Todd and Allison Picard, Leslie Wells, Gabrielle Zartman, Nicole Chevrier, Char Fraser, Gloria McNeill, Anne Michals, Refinishing Touch, Inc., Bill and Anne Shields, Jenni Valentine,Ron Wahlstrom, Alyce Irving, David Helgerson, Shelby Cass, Daniel Hinman, Ronda Joseph, Jeanette and Chris Rinehart, Bill & Vi Seyl, Ray and Anne Worden, and Kathleen Donnelly.

Advised fund grant award from The Oregon Community Foundation in honor of John and Stephani Hayden.

Melissa Fox Memorial Fund. My friend who did good deeds for so many. With gratitude to her Mom Cynthia.

Fire On The Mountain's, Jordan Busch, fund-raiser in March donating a portion of the dinner proceeds to Teisha's Place.

Hasson Company Realtors and Directors Mortgage sponsored an event for us at the Oregon Public House and Village Ballroom in August. Thank you to all of their agents and staff for making the night a fun one. And to event volunteers Shelly Caldwell (thank you for getting the swipe card working!), Courtenay Hameister (our favorite MC and Author of OK, Fine, Whatever), Allison Picard (event coordinator extraordinaire), Maria Saban (designed Teisha's Place logo and flyer), Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk (Wonderly and OK Chorale I love their music!), MusikHaus Ukulele band, Irene Bonn-Laney (Nourishment Food) Char Fraser and Leslie Hayertz (sporting their Teisha's Place aprons) , Mario and Kate Molony (wine and beer donations), Jim Poplack, Dell Smith, and Becky Smith (membership table) ,Carmen Imes (remember those cupcakes!), Rachel Probst and Cierra (greeters) and Julian Helgerson (room cleanup),and Jason Sledd, Smart Foods.

Phenomenal silent auction donors: Molly Cliff-Hilts, Dog Watch Hidden Fences, Erin Rothrock and Aaron Cross, Twisted NW, Bannings Restaurant & Pie House, Linn City Pub, Portland Nursery, Stu and Ali Crowley, Courtenay , Scott and Sally Hameister, Stacy Jones, Storm Large, and Linda Monaco, Bernadette Breu.

Special gifts and thoughtfulness: Tanner Michalowski (Hasson Company Realtors for donating a portion of his commission checks), Sheri Diteman ( donated a year of cleaning supplies). Shelly Caldwell for hosting and Gia Bocci for hosting

Friends Jim Poplack, Irene Bonn-Laney, Dell Smith, Becky Smith, Char Fraser, Jan Bonn, Tony Bonn, Mo Colburn, Gia Bocci, and the other Debbie Helgerson (my sister-in-law) who volunteer to help clean the house between families. Just saying you will help means the world to me even if we have to cancel plans at the last minute.

Brother Harland Ralph Jr for changing the Hepa filter on the furnace. Scott Hameister and Stacey Jones for painting the house trim, deck, and procuring new deck furniture. Julian Helgerson and Carmen, Emily, and Jace Imes for yard work during the summer.

Thank you so much!

Tax deductible donations are welcome:
If you sign up for a small monthly donation I will send you a monthly update on activities at the house.
Checks are welcome too. Mail them to PLCW, 2201 N Rosa Parks Way, Portland, OR 97217




The simple joys of the season are its greatest gifts... I know that Teisha's spirit is everywhere and she is so pleased to know that so many people are benefitting from her house. Kindness, generosity, warmth, love acceptance and laughter – all traits that I know are provided and all part of the Teisha we knew and loved."

- a card from Teisha's friend Nicole, last December

This year marks five years of hosting 14 guests and 24 family members and caregivers. Teisha's Place makes a real difference every day and it is a wonderful feeling but also comes with constant reminders of the struggle to deal with catastrophic disease.

This year Clay, age 71, completed his stem cell transplant to cure MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome) and was able to return to Salem on January 31st after a three-and-a-half month stay.

Maria, 31, had to leave three children in Corvallis during her transplant to cure AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). "Thank you for being so kind. You will forever be a part of my story." And her story continues with a new career and job training starting in November as a cosmetologist. Cancer interrupts all of life's routines and I am excited to hear that her life is getting back to a new normal.

Jesse, 30, came from Albany in April and left at the end of June and his sister moved from Missouri to be his caregiver. His adorable daughters aged 3 and 1, were able to join him on weekends and they left a sweet thank you note when they moved back home. "Thank You So Much!! Thank you for providing a place for us to stay while Jesse was healing. It would have been quite the struggle if we had to find somewhere to rent. This house and all of the accommodations have been more than we could ask for. You've been so kind and helpful to us during a hard time and we will forever be grateful for what you did for us here."

Joel, 30, from Milton Freewater, moved into the house in July. Joel was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2015 and had an orchiectomy and believed there was only a 5% chance of the cancer returning. "In the summer of 2016 I experienced a lot of pain in my lower back and after a series of emergency room visits, I found out the testicular cancer had returned and spread into my spine. In September 2016 I was forced to quit my job, and it has been really hard financially. I had surgery to remove the largest of several lesions that were growing in my spine and completed four rounds of platinum chemotherapy." On July 6, 2017 Joel was released from OHSU to recover at Teisha's Place after his first transplant and had a second transplant in August. In September he appeared cancer free and moved back to Milton Freewater. In October the cancer returned for the fourth time and Joel is face-to-face with things that most of us push to the back of our minds and lives. Joel can use extra help and has a GoFundMePage. (or send contributions to PLCW* on his behalf).

With gratitude for all that you do to help Teisha's place - here is a shout out to some very special people: Lucia Shin of Wilsonville Summit Apartments, Tanner Michalowski of Hasson Company Realtors, the women of Peace Lutheran Church and their 501C3, The Bonn Family and Richland Methodist Church, Molly and Dan Cliff-Hilts, Tina, Nancy, and Keren - the social workers  that refer families from OHSU, Rachel & Cierra for deep cleaning with me, Dave for fixing stuff, Dell for loads of laundry, Shelly for maintaining Teisha's blog:, and Gia for Jim and Roam Schooled, and exemplary donors this year: Earlene & Kernan, Dave, Irene, Sharron, Leah, Marliynn, Doug & Kristen, Ronda, Ann, April, Katherine, Gloria, Gabrielle, Ron & Sally, Megan & John, Lisa, Grant & Cindy, Tiffani, Diane & Don, Gary & Carol.

Teisha's Place is grateful for your support,  
Deb, Teisha's Mom




Teisha would have done this herself.  I know she is loving it” is the note from a friend of Teisha's in  response to last years' update.  So true.  It feels good to share her home, to introduce her to new friends, and to provide families an oasis for a few short months. 

This past year has been life changing for four families staying at the house while recovering from transplants. 

Jim Long, a Professor at OIT, and family were guests from December 2015 to March 2016 when he returned home to Klamath Falls.  Jim was in an experimental treatment but died on June 11.  A scholarship in Professor Long's memory as been set up at Oregon Institute of Technology.  I watched him tutor his daughter and her robotics team remotely via the internet and conversed with him via Skype when he was at OHSU and I was standing in Teisha's kitchen with his wife Leslie.  His use of technology to stay connected was exciting to see, and doing something productive is as necessary to healing as the medicine prescribed everyday.  Jim was a remarkable man and will be missed. 

Eugene (age 60) & his wife MJ, Kaneohe Hawaii, were guests at Teisha's from April to July.  Eugene's donor for his transplant to cure MDS (Myelogysplastic Syndrome) came from his sister, a perfect match.  They wrote a letter to Teisha saying “ From the minute we entered your house, we could feel the circle of love and protection all around us.  It never ceased.  Your house instantly became a home!  We met you through your photos and all your positive vibes.  Words cannot express our gratitude for shelter and complete comfort.  You will forever been in our hearts, and know that not a day goes by without your name being said out loud.  Your home was an oasis in the middle of anxious times.” Eugene and MJ have been back home for five months and hoping to move on to more wild ambitions beside being able to stand on two feet. 

The house was then set for a family from Eugene, but David did not survive his second transplant and only his wife stayed from mid September to October 5th.   Then in a rush, the house was readied for Clay (age 71) to move in the next day.  He and his wife Jennifer are from Salem and on the day Clay was to be released following his transplant they found that the housing they had lined up was contaminated and unacceptable as a place for him to recuperate.  This isn't the first time that I've experienced back to back guests but it always works out.  As of this writing there is no evidence of MDS and he was even cleared by Teisha's doctor (yes, they share the same Oncologist) to go out to eat in a restaurant.  No fresh green salads yet (and trust me, you'll never know how much you can miss fresh vegetables until you're not allowed to eat them for months and months) but seems to be thriving and doing exceptionally well according to the last bone marrow biopsy.  The first 100 days of recovery require that he be no more than 20 minutes from OHSU and Teisha's Place is less than 15 so this will continue to be his home through the holidays, and as long as necessary, until cleared by his doctor to go back to his life in Salem.

And in other good news.  Juaneca (guest in 2014) got married last year and is an expectant father of Twins!  And Charlotte (age 29 and guest 2014/2015) had both hips replaced this year as a result of  damage from the high doses of steroids that she had to take and she is thriving as a bionic woman and feeding her wickedly funny sense of humor by working with senior citizens in Crescent City, CA.  I am so proud of her and her resilience.

Living with cancer makes us acutely aware of being alive, of anticipatory stress, of sadness we cannot prepare for, of laughter and love that exceeds every expectation at unexpected times, and life coming full circle.   To all of the donors who keep the house afloat, this letter is for you.  See the good in what you've done to keep Teisha's name and loving spirit alive and well and doing good work. 

And a special shout out to Gia Bocci for setting up a web-page for, to Shelly Caldwell for managing the blog at, to Jim Brunberg and and a rerun of Episode 1 “Remember Me, Lucia Shin, Wilsonville Summit Apartments, for helping to spruce up the yard and the bank account, my nieces and nephew Carmen, Jace, Rachel and Cierra for heavy lifting, Rodrigo Avila for home repairs, Kathleen Donnelly for weeding and being a walking miracle herself, Marni Beardsley for her circle of friends fund-raiser, Tanner Michalowski of Hasson Company Realtors, Nancy Harris for a boundless supply of yarn and Julie Smith for teaching how to use it so that time passes more quickly, Tiffany Penson for her bright light, to the Bonn family and the Hilary Bonn Benevolence Fund and Richland Methodist Church, to guests of the first Happy Hour and House Tour, and a special remembrance to Sandy Ball, of Peace Lutheran Church Women (PLCW) for her tireless work in organizing the April concert with pianist Michael Allen Harrison, and to the PLCW for their continued support as a 501c3, to Dennis, Marni, Boo, Mindy, Donn & Kelly, Wayne & Geralding, Lisa, Mo & Tony, John & Mindy, Connie & Richard, Kathleen, Alic, Miles & Mary, Jennifer, Carol, Melissa, Char, Victoria, Moira, Linda, Gary & Kelly, Heather, James & Lisa, David, Harland & Kaylene, Karl & Debbie, Kent, Leah, Instant Vintage, Carol, Beverly, Bonnie & Francis, Donn & Clarice, Paul & Annalee, Penny, Roger, Beverly & David, Loops, Sandy & Holly, Trudi, Melanie, Pelletrox, Monique, Jim, Paige, Rene, Jeanette & Christopher, Robin, Ann,Becky & Bruce, Dell, Debi & Paul, Jackie & Chuck, Bill & KK, Michael & Pam, Ara, Debra, Ray & Ann.  What a wonderful circle of supportive friends. 

Thank You,  
Deb, Teisha's Mom




Happy New Year! I hope all is well with you and yours and want to share with you an update on activity this year at Teisha’s Place. This precious note is from one of the families that stayed at Teisha's Place in 2015.

Deb –
There literally are no words to express my thankfulness for everything you’ve done for me and my family. I do not know what we would’ve done if not for you. Thank you for allowing me to heal in a place of positivity and love. Teisha’s Place is my home away from home, my “happy place,” and will always have a special place in my heart. Cancer does suck and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone but it has changed my life for the better. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You. Though I never had the honor to meet her, I know Teisha would be proud of all you have done and continue to do in her honor.
Love, Charlotte

At the end of July, Charlotte and her family were able to return to Crescent City, CA with a tender diagnosis of remission and a daily regime of oral chemotherapy expected to last another year. But the good news is that she appears to be free of ALL (Acute Lymphoid Leukemia) and despite occasional reactions to her chemo she is regaining her strength and looking forward to going back to working with at-risk youth one day.

Coming from Medford, Oregon, the Lee family moved into Teisha's Place in mid September. Donnie Lee's sister was his exact match for the bone marrow and she and her husband and family stayed while she took shots to stimulate her production of stem cells. The transplant put the cancer in remission but a severe fungal lung infection created complications. Donnie's wife Lisa, his three daughters (aged 9, 11, 16), his mother and Lisa's parents rotated between Teisha's house and hospital for several weeks. With a heavy heart I write that Donnie did not survive the lung infection and died on November 20th.

And able to spend Christmas together as a family the Long's from Klamath Falls moved in on December 18. Jim is one of three Oregonians participating in a clinical study to see if his own immune system can be reprogrammed to fight his lymphoma. This will be a medical game changer with results due in a few weeks.

This is the nature of Teisha's Place. A refuge, a place of comfort, a constant reminder of the remarkableness and enduring spirits of the patients and families who stay for a few months, or a few days, and an acknowledgement of the cycle of life that is often hard to understand or accept but life goes on. It is great to hear from past guests and I'm happy to report Sage and Mack from Naselle Washington are doing well, Juaneca in Pendleton is thriving and newly married, and Juan in Madras is also a newlywed and children Janet and John are growing up with a new mom and sister.

Deb Helgerson, Teisha’s Mom (is her blog)




This has been a busy and rewarding year at Teisha's Place with four remarkable families able to lean on her home as a comfortable place to stay while they do the hard work of treatment and recovery from catastrophic illness.

From Pendleton we had twenty-one year old Juan, his wonderful mother and father and his sister, who was a perfect match as his donor for his transplant to try to cure Acute Lympoid Leukmia (ALL). They arrived on January 6th and by April 15th Juan was well enough to go home to Pendleton. I have had two Juan's living at Teisha's in the past two years and both they and their families were extraordinary and strong.

One of Teisha's best friends called to tell me about Sage and her husband Mac from Naselle, Washington. She knew they were staying on a friends couch in Portland following her liver transplant – because when recovering from a transplant you need to live within a 20 minute drive of the hospital in case of emergencies in addition to going to OHSU every other day for blood draws and monitoring. They moved to Teisha's the day after Juan left. Sage waited over 7 years to have a liver transplant and was able to return home in Naselle at the end of August and Mac was able to go back to work as a youth counselor. Teisha's is free to families because as you can see patients and caregivers cannot hold down jobs while in recovery. The financial relief supports their healing without the added stress of paying rent.

Teisha's was then reserved for Jack (age 70) and his wife BJ from Etna, California who were scheduled to arrive just before Thanksgiving so that he could begin his final chemo in preparation for a transplant on December 5th. Jack has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and hopes to be well enough to be discharged from the hospital sometime between Christmas and New Years. The family has information posted at (search for Jack Grubb) for more of their story. (Jack did not survive his transplant and died on January 3, 2015)

Just before Thanksgiving the social worker from OHSU called to ask if Charlotte (27) and her caregiver Rebecca (25) could stay at the house for Thanksgiving week. They are from Crescent City, California and were staying in a 19 square foot RV in the parking lot at OHSU where they had been for the past three months. Charlottes' friend was able to plan to bring her daughter (age 6) and Rebecca's daughter (age 3) for a visit. The RV would not be big enough for everyone but if Teisha's could host them the family could be together during Thanksgiving. I checked with Jack and BJ and they agreed to let Charlotte and Rebecca and girls have the house for the week.

Then, the two families met and decided that they would try to make it work for everyone. Charlotte and Rebecca have the upstairs and BJ has the main level bedroom with the rest of the house as shared space.

Charlotte has ALL (like Juan) but without the Philadelphia marker that will allow a transplant. At this time she is undergoing chemo and being monitored with lumbar punctures and bone marrow biopsies and hopefully some new therapies will emerge soon.

It is a gift to be able to share Teisha's home as a way to support and nurture the healing spirits in our guests. This has been a busy and rewarding year and Teisha's is a very special place. Thank you for your contributions to pay for utilities, thank you for asking about how the families are doing, thank you for keeping these wonderful families in your thoughts and prayers, thank you for treats and field trips and generous donations and showing up at events and for taking care of those you love. And thank you for remembering Teisha and honoring her place in this world.

Much love to you,

Teisha's Mom




Teisha’s home hosted two families during 2012.

The first of June we welcomed the first family from Central Oregon. Maria had spent the greater part of the year in the hospital trying to gain enough strength to have a bone marrow transplant in hope of curing her Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). During the summer months Maria, her husband and their two children, ages ten and seven, stayed at Teisha’s until the school year began. On September 17th she was released by the hospital and allowed to return to her own home to live but still must make weekly trips, with a four hour drive, to Portland one or two days per week for monitoring. Maria’s family did not have insurance coverage for housing and her husband had to quit his job to be her caregiver. The Peace Lutheran Church Women (PLCW) used benevolent fund donations dedicated to Teisha’s Place’s to covered the cost of utilities during their stay.

The second family came from northern California in mid September. JoAnn completed her transplant and her retired husband and caregiver along, with their adult daughter moved in the same day that the Maria’s family left on September 17th. JoAnn’s leukemia returned the first of November and she chose not to accept any further treatment and returned to her home on Thanksgiving Day under hospice care. Her first grand-daughter was born two weeks early and her daughter brought the baby to Portland to see her in early November. The family had insurance to cover housing costs for September and October.

The week after Thanksgiving Maria had complications in her recovery and was required to return to Portland for treatment and hospitalizations. The family will continue to stay until she is stabilized.

I am grateful to so many people who helped support the house and to honor Teisha’s memory this past year.

For everyone who enjoys the tribute CD and who came to the August concert at Kruger’s Farm in August, the sale of “Teisha and Friends Carry-On” helps to cover the costs of families staying at the house. The sale of the CD and donations to the PLCW (Peace Lutheran Church Women) a 501C3 benevolent fund, helped two families with a comfortable home to stay in during a most difficult time in their lives and I hope more families will be served this coming year. As with all good things, additional contributions are needed to support families without insurance.

With heartfelt gratitude for your support.
Teisha’s Mom
Deb Helgerson



Many people have been involved in supporting the house
and I want to express my gratitude to these very special friends:

Jim Brunberg | Mississippi Studios
for his exceptional Podcast “Remember Me” which includes a segment on Teisha's Place.

Irene Bonn and Niki Dwigans
for donating the proceeds of YogaIn at Melissa Soltesz Fine Art Studio.

Lucia Shin and Wilsonville Summit
for donating yard cleanup after a busy growing season!

Susie Frank, Editor OHSU eXtra
for including Teisha's Place in their magazine highlighting the need for housing for families undergoing a medical crisis.

Brian Harney
for power washing the house and painting the trim with paint he matched and donated.

Tiffani Penson
for welcome baskets of her delicious home baked treats.

Doug and Bonnie Yarris
for the donation of their beautiful antique French dining table.

for accepting tax deductable donations that pay the cost of utilities so that families can stay free of charge for as long as they need. And to the incredible donors, Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

*PLCW Benevolent Fund
Peace Lutheran Church Women
2201 N Rosa Parks Way, Portland OR 97217

"After You"