Falmouth’s Tommy’s Place was all full in 2022.Quincy developers are looking for a second villa to open on the South Shore or Cape

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FALMOUTH – Quincy’s Tim O’Connell is a fully booked calendar for the rest of the year if a family suffering from childhood cancer suspects the need to escape. Tommy’s Place Shows how grateful you are Villa Really so. Not to mention the waiting list for the year.

“It took me three years to get it up and running. Obviously I can’t repeat the same model, but I’d like to continue doing this in some way,” O’Connell said. “I’m looking for an angel to help me find another place on the South Shore or Cape and take my kids there. I know these angels are there.”

O’Connell, 56, is the developer of Quincy, who realized Tommy’s Place’s long-held dream with the help of an army of donors, volunteers, designers and construction workers.

Since the opening of the historic Elm Arch Inn Tommy’s Place in early July, about 37 families have spent a free week at the retreat, bringing up to 20 guests.

A family in southeastern Massachusetts described a “amazing” and “magical” experience. Most importantly, they say, a week away from dealing with treatments and medical appointments gave the family the opportunity to reflect, find unified strength, and just have fun. I did.

Storton’s Brett Criscolo, 41, his wife, Genevieve, 37, and their three daughters attended Tommy’s Place as guests in December. The youngest Teddy was five years old and endured a year of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at the age of three. During her treatment, her two older sisters Luciana (10 years old) and Mirai (8 years old) were often on the sidelines.

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“When a child gets cancer, a big girl can be left behind,” said Genevieve Criscuolo. “The child being treated gets all the attention and the other kids feel left behind …. Tommy’s Place gives us the opportunity to make all three girls feel very special. Gave me. ”

Genevieve, a kindergarten teacher at Gibbons Elementary School in Storton, described the vacation as “like Disney without a ride. Everyone got together and each girl had her own room. For all the kids in the family. Something happened. Just a child with cancer. “

Each family arrives at Tommy’s Place on Sunday afternoon and departs next Sunday morning or earlier. O’Connell has sales every Sunday and is an emotional time to open up, let go, and get ready to return to everyday life.

“At first, I didn’t expect that to happen,” O’Connell said. “People cried when they arrived. They cried when they left. Then they laughed, laughed, and sometimes the weight of the world seemed to be lifted from their shoulders.”

On the large wall of the hallway inside the front door, guests write a personal message of hope, inspiration and determination.

“You are allowed to scream, you are allowed to cry, but don’t give up.”

“Sometimes miracles are just good people with a kind heart.”

“I pray for everyone who stays in this magical place. May he bring healing and joy. Keep fighting and smiling.”

And each family left something for the next family to arrive.

“I made a lot of plans, but I can’t plan someone’s emotions,” O’Connell said. “The family still invented a more personal touch. They welcome the next family to arrive, leave a note in the kitchen and leave a gift certificate.”

Each family arrives to find a $ 300 gift voucher to the supermarket, and families often leave restaurant gift vouchers for the next family.

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The walls up the stairs are lined with pictures of Lynn’s boy and cancer patient Griffin Sawyer, who spent a free vacation in one of O’Connell’s former vacation rental homes on Martha’s Viniard Island in 2007. Letters and photographs, he was deeply moved when O’Connell received the appreciation of his family. “My sense of meaning has been upset,” he said. Tommy’s Place is dedicated to Griffin’s memory.

The first guest was assumed to be Danny Sheehan, 8, of Marshfield, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor that had spread to the spine in 2017. But when Danny couldn’t come because of illness, his first stay went to Weymouth’s “Mighty Quinn” Waters, 5.

Danny died on August 8th.

Quinn Waters became like a local celebrity when he was treated for two rounds of medulloblastoma, a cancerous brainstem tumor, in 2019 and 2021. Currently he is stable and untreated.

“It was a great experience, and we were very impressed with how great the place was,” Quinn’s mother, Tara Waters, said of their stay.

Waters contacted O’Connell last year to seek help with a vacation home, and Quinn’s story came to Boston Bruins, who sponsored the bedroom.

“It was amazing how everything was processed, including groceries,” she said. “Both of my kids had their favorite rooms, such as space rooms, music rooms, art rooms, etc. For kids, they could go without worrying about the outside world and spend their vacation. It’s a place where you can do it and it’s a good way for the whole family. Reconnect. ”

Chemotherapy often has side effects, and children with cancer can also become immunocompromised. They may want to stay in or be close to their permanent home during their vacation.

“For parents who aren’t as fortunate as we are, or who may be absent from work while their child is being treated for cancer, the vacation couldn’t even be imagined until Tommy’s Place arrived,” Tara Waters said. ..

The Harriman family in Hanover was a guest last August. The day they arrived, O’Connell was there, promising to guide them. He likes to greet new families at the front door and show them 11 bedrooms.

“I could see the children running around and see pure joy in his face,” Elizabeth Duff said. Her eldest daughter, Kaiya Harriman, 9, is being treated for leukemia and she will receive chemotherapy until September. Kaiya’s sister Coke is 7 years old.

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“I feel like we’ve found a friendship for life with Tim,” Duff said, expressing how much it makes sense to have a vacation opportunity.

One night, Kingston’s West End Grill chef, husband Rob, cooked a lobster dinner in a large modern kitchen for family and friends.

Kaiya returned to school in the fall. She took a book about a leukemia girl, read it in class, answered questions, and showed her a medical kit.

“She’s really fine, very mature and wants to be a nurse,” Duff said.

The Daxbury Remy Tufts family stayed at Tommy’s Place last week in August 2021, but refurbishment work was still ongoing. Remy was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2018. His family includes his mother Julie Santos. His father, Barry Tufts. And his sister, Madison, 9.

Julie Santos has long said that instead of her usual childhood activities, “his days were full of constant questions about medicine, blood sampling, and his feelings.”

When they arrived and saw the size of Tommy’s Place, they started calling their friends and invited them to get off for a day or two. They were used to being in their bubble, but were re-engaged in being with others.

“It was a spinning doorway,” said Julie Santos. “The kids laughed non-stop. They could watch movies and go to the beach. We had to do what we hadn’t done for a long time.”

Tommy’s Place is within walking distance of a restaurant in the center of town and they went out to eat ice cream every night.

Santos said he had experienced various emotions and thought, “We wouldn’t have been here if Remy hadn’t had cancer.”

“The whole path of treatment is full of highs and lows. It’s great to have someone like Tim take care of and make the effort he made,” she said. “His personal vision has great implications for his family.”

O’Connell has collaborated with eight hospitals in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island for referrals.

The widespread network of mothers on social media was the first connection to Tommy’s Place for many, including Taunton’s Sharon Paradis. Her husband, Ryan. And their adopted child, Finn.

In October 2020, Finn was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor. He has undergone surgery and chemotherapy and is in the middle of aggressive radiation therapy.

Finn was born 10 weeks early, weighed only 3 pounds, had three surgeries in the first year and had many health problems.

He achieved all the milestones and became a normal playful infant when he became ill in October 2020 and was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a rare and aggressive brain tumor.

A large brain tumor was surgically resected. He had to relearn how to walk, talk and swallow.

He is being treated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, and Massachusetts General.

“I’m exhausted, but if he’s fine, we’re fine,” Sharon said of a long trial.

The family learned about Tommy’s Place through the mother’s social media network for cancer families.

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“Whatever you need, whatever you want, you talk to a few other cancer mothers and it starts to happen,” Sharon said.

“We spent time with our family in Taunton, but there’s always something we have to do and you really never stop,” Sharon said. “At Tommy’s Place, we had everything we needed and we were able to sit down, relax and enjoy our family.

“I can’t fully emphasize how important it is to get that time and how important it is to be normal.”

What surprised Sharon most about childhood cancer was “the number of parents who contacted me that they had experienced a similar situation.”

Her husband doesn’t drink, but he finds a dark, cozy, windowless tavern with a big TV a coveted shelter.

“He could go there and sit there all afternoon and watch TV with the lights off.” So far, no demands or worries.

“Because of his surgery, Finn has a balance problem, but Tommy’s Place has enough space for him to navigate the place and we didn’t have to worry about falling.”

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Visit a villa for children with cancer

After a week in Falmouth, Storton’s Criscolo family visits Tommy’s Place, a villa for children with cancer.

Sue Shyble, Patriot Ledger

Finn may always need some attention due to the effects of radiation on his brain, and a one-week stay at Tommy’s Place is more feasible and more acceptable to face that future. , Made it even more normal.

“I’m happiest ever because I’m more than grateful,” she said.

O’Connell is also strongly influenced by childrenAnd he said that knowing his family helped him feel more satisfied...

“You will do your best to thank what you have,” he said. “I don’t know what these families are experiencing. I just guess. They are suffering, mom and dad, but they are happy.”

For more information, please contact O’Connell at tommysplacefalmouth@gmail.com or visit the following website: tommysplace.org..

Contact SueScheible at sscheible@patriotledger.com

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