Former residents, Joe and Amy Pagano are very grateful for their time at Halo House. In 2015, Amy, a radiation therapist, returned home from a weekend getaway and noticed that her physician husband, Joe, had a swollen lymph node on his neck. Shortly thereafter, Joe received a diagnosis of cancer but felt that they should get a second opinion from the best cancer hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Nathan Fowler, Halo House co-founder, confirmed Joe’s diagnosis and advised him that he could receive his stem cell transplant and treatment in their home state of Florida. Unfortunately, a couple of years later Joe’s cancer returned.
In December 2019, Amy and Joe came to Houston for another second opinion with Dr. Fowler who said the best treatment would be a CAR-T and that the best place to receive the treatment was at MD Anderson. Dr. Fowler also told the Pagano’s about Halo House and suggested that they get on the waitlist as this would be the best place to stay while in treatment in Houston.
While Joe was in the hospital for his CAR-T treatment, the Pagano’s received the call from Halo House informing them that an apartment was available. While Joe was still in the hospital, Amy was able to use the apartment to do laundry which became a respite for her because it forced her to sit in the recliner and relax while she was waiting for their clothes to dry!
When Joe relapsed in November 2019, he broke his leg and was still recovering from that injury while going through treatment in Houston. It was a difficult situation but having the comfort of their own apartment versus a hotel while in treatment was important for the Pagano’s. In fact, Joe was able to meet virtually with some of his own patients by setting up a private little office in the reading room at Halo House which is something that would have been impossible at the extended stay hotel where they were living prior to moving to Halo House.
Amy and Joe lived at Halo House during a very different time. When they moved in, everything was operating as normal and they were even able to get out and do some things around Houston such as visit the Houston Zoo, NASA, and Galveston, however, just a couple of weeks later, the country and the city began shutdowns due to COVID-19. To help pass her time while Joe worked or while he was at the hospital, Amy became a Resident Manager with Halo House. She said, “It was fun because it gave me something to do and feel helpful, but it also helped take my mind off of the other reason we were there.”
Amy and Joe are now back home in Florida where they are spending much needed time with their two youngest kids as they finish up the school year. Joe is feeling great and is even back in the office safely meeting with his own patients as needed. Even with the hard times, the Pagano’s were able to make the best of it while in Houston. They are looking forward to someday coming back to Houston with good news and bringing their kids so that they can also experience what Houston has to offer.