Feb 15, 2015 9:14 PM
When the people of the north state learned that a Chico woman was living in her van while undergoing chemotherapy to treat Stage 4 Manthle Cell Lymphoma, they refused to let her suffer. Ruth Whatcott, 59, was told by doctors that she couldn't stay at a shelter because her immune system was too weak, and she could easily get sick and would have to be hospitalized. She mostly lived in her van, but would use what little money she had to pay for a hotel room at the Heritage Inn to recover in the days after receiving chemo.
When Whatcott's story first aired February 1 on Action News Now, people began posting words of encouragement on Facebook, offering her money, a place to stay, and furniture.
A few days later, tireless homeless advocates Laurie and Mike Maloney posted the story to the Facebook page ‘You know you're from Chico when...,' and that's when something amazing happened. People began calling the Heritage Inn and paying for her room. Within hours, she had enough nights to stay through February. In April, Whatcott said she is expected to be able to move in to Section 8 housing.
Whatcott is scheduled to get a pet scan on Tuesday, and one week later, she'll find out if she is cancer-free. She said she has gotten countless gifts, including cat food for her beloved companion 'Elvis' from the Chico Cat Care Center on East Avenue. She has been busy writing thank you notes to everyone who has helped her, and continues to go on Facebook to read the comments that people post, which she says never fail to lift her spirits. She is saving the money that's been donated to her Go Fund Me page for medical bills that she expects to get. Despite the fact that she had to live in her van, she says she still loves it. And she hopes to one day pay-it-forward when she gets back on her feet.