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‘Home’ For The Holidays: Town Rallies For Cancer Survivor

Shaljian Family Bids Farewell To The Old, Looks Forward To New
James Shaljian home

Volunteers cleared the way for the Shaljian family’s new home on Long Island on Dec. 8, 2010. (Photo: Mona Rivera, 1010 WINS)

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MOUNT SINAI, N.Y. (CBS 2/ 1010 WINS) – They are one step closer.

A family separated by the effects of a deadly disease is celebrating the destruction of the house that was keeping them apart.

For James Shaljian, his wife and four daughters, it was an emotional moment Wednesday when their home of 20 years was torn down to make way for a new one.

“It’s amazing. I’m blessed, unbelievably grateful,” Shaljian told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports from Mount Sinai on Long Island

Since Shaljian was a carpenter, the home had been purchased as a handyman special. But nine years ago he got cancer: Hodgkin’s lymphoma, resulting in chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant.

When doctors found out that the two-bedroom home was loaded with airborne mold that could not be abated, they told Shaljian to get out.

James Shaljian home

The spot where James Shaljian's home once stood and where a new one will go up. (Photo: 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera)

We first introduced you to the Shaljians in August. With his wife and daughters staying in the house, James moved into a cottage out back, to protect his immune system from the mold. Dorothy Schlosser heard of the family’s plight and mobilized volunteers.

“They needed a home and they needed to be together. It was my mission. This is terrific. Thank you,” Schlosser said.

Schlosser organized contractors and others to tear down the old and plan for building the new.

“Everybody knows somebody who can use a little help, so we’re trying to inspire hope, building hope for Long Island,” contractor John Williams said.

A non-profit was formed that, after rebuilding this home, hopes to help others.

“When these guys came in it was a total dream come true. Beautiful thing they’ve done for me,” Shaljian said.

As friends and neighbors pitch in, the new home is expected to be completed by March.

The non-profit organization, “Building Hope for Long Island” which intends to continue the work for other needy families, can be located here.