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Medicine & Science
Press Release
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mary Ellen and Morris BalesHOUSTON, 14 September 2018 – When Mary Ellen Bales was diagnosed in 2014 with multiple myeloma, she and her husband Morris had no idea they were in for the fight of their lives. Morris said, “We never realized it was going to be as evil as it is to battle.” Mary Ellen and Morris have lived in the beautiful hill country of Wimberley, Texas for 35 years and Mary Ellen worked at a nearby Walmart Distribution center. For 26 years, she never missed a scheduled day of work.  Behind her desk sat a picture of Mary Ellen with the man himself, Walmart founder Sam Walton. Morris was semi-retired and working at a seed company where he sold to tractor supply companies, military bases, and the gardening centers of a major grocery store chain.

For Mary Ellen, a hurt back was the first sign that there was a problem. Once diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the Bales family headed to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, because her insurance through Walmart covered most of the cost. According to the Bales family, since Sam Walton had battled multiple myeloma himself, he never wanted his employees to face financial hardship while they fought cancer. While in Phoenix, Mary Ellen had a stem-cell transplant and they stayed at an extended stay.

When Mary Ellen’s cancer turned into acute myeloid leukemia (AML) they chose to come to the MD Anderson Cancer Center for treatment.  They never expected to be here so long – they have been living in Houston near the Texas Medical Center (TMC) since November 2017, and are on their second, three month stay at Halo House.  They were able to return home for a brief visit in June, during which Mary Ellen fell and broke her hip and three months later she is still not well enough to have surgery to fix it. 

At this point in their journey, they are not sure how much longer they will have to be here. Morris said it’s, “Such a blessing not to have to worry about a place to stay or getting back and forth to the hospital, because it’s a fight.”

September is blood cancer awareness month and according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, it’s estimated that, “a combined total of 174,250 people in the US are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma in 2018.” 

At only $20 per day, Halo House provides families in treatment for a blood cancer a clean, affordable “home away from home,” and a chance to continue the fight without spending all their savings on lodging; as well as a chance to see their children and grandchildren grow up.

This spring Halo House broke ground on a 33 unit apartment facility which will allow them to triple the number of cancer patients they are able to serve daily and provide over 11,000 days of housing a year! Blood cancers are difficult to treat, and as with the Bales family, patients are often paying for living expenses both here and back home. Executive Director Kathleen Fowler said, “From the patients arrival at the covered drop-off area, to having a washer and dryer in every apartment, our new facility is designed to surround our guests with support and care. We want to provide patients with a place that enables them to focus on hope and healing.”

The doors to the new Halo House facility are expected to open in early 2019.  For more information on Halo House, their new building, or to make a donation visit or call 713-665-8852.


Halo House is a 501 (c3) public charity founded in 2009 by MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologist Dr. Nathan Fowler and his mother, retired business owner Kathleen Fowler. Their vision is that one day no one battling the blood cancers leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma will have to worry about where they are going to live during treatment in Houston or going bankrupt while paying for living, eating, and parking expenses here and their rent or mortgage back home.

At only $20 per day, Halo House apartments are substantially lower than area hotels, which average $120 - $229/night.

Since opening the doors to its first two apartments in 2011, Halo House has expanded to 11 apartments with an average wait of about three months before a Halo House apartment becomes available.  To date Halo House has served over 320 families and provided over 21,000 days of housing.  

Remembering Jim Guidry GRCC M3 Global Medical Missions

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