The Journey of a Survivor: Building a Home Dedicated to Fighting Cancer

Key Takeaways:

  • Charles Ruma, a former cancer patient, created the “Home for Hope,” a unique house design meant to encourage and facilitate a healthy lifestyle, using carcinogen-free materials.
  • The home includes features aimed at reducing the risk for cancer; one example being a steam oven which conserves the nutritional value of food and prevents charring, a cooking method that has been linked to some forms of cancer.
  • The home also encourages a plant-based diet and physical activity, both of which have been suggested to reduce the risk of various cancers. For example, the home is situated next to a park with walking and hiking trails, and includes a vegetable garden.
  • To further minimize potential cancer risks, Ruma used building materials free of formaldehyde, a substance known to cause cancer in animals and potentially humans.
  • Once completed, the home was auctioned and a portion of the proceeds were donated to James Cancer Hospital and Livestrong, in support of further cancer research and patient support services.

At a tender age of 36, Charles Ruma was enjoying a successful career as a house builder, cherishing life with his wife and young son until he received the shocking news of his testicular cancer.

“It occurred to me, I was under the misconception that cancer was an older person’s disease,” says Ruma. “I had always felt active and healthy and had no inkling something was amiss. The diagnosis was alarming.”

Post his medical procedure to remove the cancerous tumor, Ruma felt motivated to contribute towards the mission to defeat cancer.

Creation of the Home for Hope

Ruma, collaborating with specialists from the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital, where he was receiving his treatments, worked diligently on his unique initiative. He built a 3,100-square-foot “Home for Hope”, showcasing his innovative ideas to promote a healthy lifestyle that could help combat cancer. Ruma designed this unique house using carcinogen-free materials and incorporating health-friendly features.

Healthy Practices for a Cancer Prevention Strategy

The kitchen of this exceptional house features a steam oven, an approach to cooking that conserves the nutritional value of foods and discourages meats from being charred. It has been suggested by various studies that the charring of meat cooked at high temperatures can be associated with pancreatic cancer.

Outside, they planted a vegetable garden loaded with varied vegetables and fruits like broccoli, cauliflower, blackberries, blueberries, and tomatoes. Although no specific food has been identified to guarantee cancer prevention, studies indicate a plant-based diet could help mitigate the risk.

Research Insights and Suggestions

Studies indicate that a diet high in animal fats can elevate the risk of colon cancer, whereas a fiber-rich diet could potentially help prevent it, according to Dr. Steven Clinton, Professor of medical oncology and Director of genitourinary oncology at James Cancer Hospital.

Being overweight or obese has been associated with specific types of cancer like colorectal, breast, and kidney. To encourage physical activity, this special house was built adjacent to a park equipped with walking and hiking trails. The house also includes a gym over the garage.

In Ruma’s construction project, every material was meticulously selected. This involved using insulation free from formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer in animals and potentially in humans as per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It is important to note that exposure to chemicals found in building materials like formaldehyde does not imply an immediate risk of developing cancer. However, the principle of minimizing such exposure is advised for everyone, suggested Dr. Clinton.

Fundraising for Cancer Research

Upon completion in May, the house was auctioned off in June, and drew a price of $400,000. A major proportion of the proceeds, close to $70,000, was given to the James Cancer Hospital and Livestrong, a foundation led by Lance Armstrong, a legendary cyclist and a survivor of testicular cancer, like Ruma.

Though it is difficult to ascertain the specific impact of these healthy lifestyle features on cancer prevention, Dr. Clinton stresses the significance of orchestrating life around healthy living for a lengthy and wholesome life.

Additional Resources

Visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute for more information on how a healthy lifestyle can contribute to cancer prevention.


Greetings from the trails and tracks! I'm Tim, but most folks know me as TJ. I've spent the last 5 years diving deep into the world of content writing, with a particular penchant for nutrition and the intricate science behind it. Every bite we take, every nutrient we consume, tells a unique story – and I'm here to unravel it for you.Beyond my keyboard, you'll often find me on a winding hiking trail or pushing my limits on a long-distance run. These pursuits not only keep me fit but constantly remind me of the vital role nutrition plays in fueling our passions and adventures.Through my writings, I aim to bridge the gap between complex nutritional science and everyday eating habits. Whether you're looking for the latest research updates, practical diet tips, or stories from the running track, I'm committed to serving you content that's as engaging as it is enlightening.So, lace up your shoes, grab a healthy snack, and join me in this exploration of food, science, and the great outdoors. Together, we'll journey towards better health and incredible experiences!
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