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INDIANAPOLIS — On busy Broad Ripple Avenue sits the colorful Joy’s House. And Joy’s House is actually the house that Tina built.

Remarkable Woman finalist Tina McIntosh said she didn’t plan to build a business, but that a volunteer experience at an adult day center while attending Ball State University changed the blueprint she had for her life.

“After graduation, I went into event planning here in town and had some great experiences with that,” McIntosh said. “But the whole adult day thing just kept coming back into my spirit. And so, at the age of 27, I decided it was time to follow what I felt like I was supposed to be doing. Be who you are and be unapologetically you.”

And once McIntosh made that bold choice in 1999, she said Joy’s House became a home.

Joy’s House is a not-for-profit adult day service. Most guests are in their older years living with some type of diagnosis, and still able to live at home.

“The bottom line is a lot of us want to age in place,” said McIntosh. “We always joke we’re like “Cheers,” if you remember that TV show. We are the place where you come. We know your name. We know what you like. We know what you don’t like. We know what you can do and what you need help with, but our goal is really safety and community.”

While McIntosh’s family at Joy’s House said they know she is extraordinary, it might just be her closest friends and family who have witnessed just how deep her remarkability flows.

Tina married Jeff in 2001 and eventually had three children. And then, life got extremely unexpectedly difficult.

“In the last 10 years, I’ve had breast cancer twice,” McIntosh said. “My husband has had cancer twice. We’ve had more surgeries than I could possibly count on two hands. I feel like a survivor or warrior or even a victim at times, but this honor stands out, so thank you.”

She was 40 years old and the kids were just 3, 6 and 9 years old when her first diagnosis came.

“A little over a year later, we were beyond shocked when my husband got a diagnosis of kidney cancer,” she said. “Our lives and kids were rattled.”

McIntosh said everything seemed to be getting better when, in routine post-cancer testing, Jeff was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. 

Then, in 2019, McIntosh felt a lump and was diagnosed with a different kind of breast cancer. 

“This one meant business,” McIntosh said. “The year 2020 brought chemotherapy, radiation and nearly a dozen surgeries.”

Today, Jeff’s health is under control with medication.

Through it all, McIntosh kept caring for others.

“Tina embodies the remarkable woman,” said Joy’s House colleague Candace Hattabaugh.

In the future, McIntosh said she hopes more families will be familiar with adult day services and utilize them to help keep their loved ones living in their homes, and with their families, as long as possible.

Joy’s House is about to launch new programs for caregivers and revamp two others. An End-of-Life Doula Program and an online community called Caregiver Way will launch later this year.

CARE Kits for caregivers and Caregiver Crossing podcast episodes are available now and will both be updated later this year.

There is a second Joy’s House located at UIndy. For more information on Joy’s House, click here.