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Cancer Patient Who Lives in RV Can Stay, City Says

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Linda Fisher, the 41-year-old cancer patient who was told she could no longer live in a recreation vehicle parked in her cousin’s driveway, has been granted a reprieve by city officials.

A permit issued by the city’s planning department allows Fisher to continue living in the RV in the Alto Capistrano area for three months. The city earlier had ordered her to leave by last Monday.

In addition to granting the extension, Mayor Gary L. Hausdorfer said Tuesday that the city may consider a request from Fisher’s cousin for an extension when the Nov. 27 deadline expires.

Fisher said she was pleased by the community’s support.

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“I’m going to try not to worry,” Fisher said. “I’m hanging on, and I’m not dying like I’m supposed to. But I hope I don’t have to go through all of this again.”

Hausdorfer said he had discussed the issue with the City Council and staff members, adding that they plan to act “as sensitively as possible” in dealing with the situation.

“If (Fisher) can only be accommodated where she is (in the driveway), I’ll do everything I can to accommodate her wishes,” Hausdorfer said.

Fisher has been battling ovarian cancer for 10 years. The house on Calle Borrego where her RV has been parked since March is occupied by her cousin, Jean Maxey, a retired nurse who has cared for Fisher for three years.

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Fisher can move into an extra bedroom in the house, but she said she would prefer to live in the RV because it allows her to maneuver and perform her daily tasks. Fisher, who is attached to an IV pump almost 24 hours a day, recently underwent an ileostomy--surgery to create an artificial opening in the stomach so intestinal contents can be discharged in a plastic bag--and has lost 140 pounds in 18 months.

The city had asked Fisher to move her RV out of the neighborhood by Aug. 27 after two neighbors complained that the vehicle is an eyesore that could lower the value of their $400,000 homes.

After a newspaper article highlighted the amputee’s plight, several San Juan Capistrano residents rallied to get the city to issue a special permit for Fisher to remain in the driveway. Caren Chatham-Heller, a Mission Springs resident and community activist, founded a group called Friends of Linda Fisher and began a petition drive Tuesday to get the city to grant permission for her stay where she is.

Hausdorfer said he received two to three dozen letters and telephone calls, including one from the office of Rep. Ron Packard (R-Carlsbad), asking the city to help the woman.

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“This is really a neighborhood problem, and I encourage the neighbors to be supportive and sensitive,” Hausdorfer said. “I hope through all this that Ms. Fisher is not inconvenienced or caused discomfort.”

When told about the temporary permit granted by the city on Monday, the neighbor who filed the initial complaint against Fisher said he would contest the matter in court “if I had the money.” He declined further comment.

Even though Hausdorfer and several San Juan Capistrano residents said they would fight for Fisher’s RV to remain in the driveway, Maxey said she was making plans to move the RV to the side of the house and out of the neighbors’ sight. In fact, the temporary permit was granted on the condition that Maxey move the vehicle to the side of the house.

Maxey said Tuesday that she had already submitted plans to the city to have a retaining wall moved so that the RV can have easier access to the side.

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“Linda is extremely vulnerable out there” in the driveway, Maxey said. “It affects her when people drive by and point and talk about the whole issue. It’s a lot of psychological pressure. Moving her to the side of the house will give her peace of mind.”


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