By Mary Pieper
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MASON CITY — When Misty Theilen of Mason City, who has been battling cancer for the past four years, saw her newly-redecorated bedroom Thursday night, she wiped away tears.
The room makeover was my provided courtesy of My Happy Haven, which offers bedroom transformations — along with some other surprises — for women undergoing cancer treatment.
Theilen’s bedroom, with a blue, white and silver-gray color scheme, an electric fireplace and a fountain, was the first project for My Happy Haven.
Theilen said she just bought her house a year ago and has been busy fixing it up. She wanted just one room that was finished.
“It really means I can relax,” she said. “Part of my stress is gone.”
Theilen received third-degree burns due to her radiation treatment. She spent weeks in the hospital.
“It was horrific,” she said.
Her cancer went into remission at one point but then came back.
She is now going through a trial study through Mayo Clinic for advanced tumors.
Theilen said over and over that her three sons — Colton, 23, Stone, 18, and Blade, 15 — deserve the help from My Happy Haven more than she does because they had to see her in so much pain at such a young age.
She said they are the ones who had to cover their ears when she was crying.
“They like to see me happy,” she said.
Theilen said it has been difficult not to be able to do normal “mom” things like taking her boys to their hockey and basketball games.
Theilen also has 3-year-old twin grandsons, Stone and Blaze, who came over for the big reveal and jumped up and down on their grandma’s new bed.
She said she hopes other women with cancer will “not be afraid to ask for help.”
Theilen said her pride kept her from seeking assistance for a long time.
“I just wanted to be treated normal,” she said.
My Happy Haven also gave Theilen $1,000 to spend on gas, Christmas preparations or anything else she wants, plus a new robe and slippers.
Lisa Tan and Deidra Rattay, co-founders of My Happy Haven, also are co-partners for My Happy Place, the non-profit organization founded in 2013 to provide bedroom transformations for children affected by illness, disease or the death of a parent or sibling.
Tan said they always wanted to help women as well as children, so founding My Happy Haven “fills the other part of the equation.”
Just as they do for the children, they talk to the women about what they want in their bedroom.
Several other women have taken out applications to have My Happy Haven redo their bedrooms.
Tan said she and Rattay have spoken to representatives at the Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa Cancer Center about putting My Happy Haven brochures in the packets they give to breast cancer patients.
Tan said they are just as happy to help an 80-year-old woman with terminal cancer who never had a nice bedroom as they are a 30-year-old patient.
A fundraiser for My Happy Haven is planned for May. Tan said it will be a gala where all the women the organization has helped will be treated to a glamour makeover before attending.
“It’s kind of their night to shine,” Tan said.
For more information, visit the My Happy Haven-North Iowa page on Facebook.