Category

Cancer

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Here to serve

On a rain soaked day, a couple of weeks ago I met the most remarkable woman for lunch, her name is Katie Quintas. Katie is a living example of C.S. Lewis quote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an  extraordinary destiny.” Katie’s hardship re-routed her destiny.

Katie’s life was fantastic.  She had a husband, Silvio, she adored. A wonderful son, Bryan and a fantastic career consulting non-profits. Then all of that changed in 2006, when her husband Silvio was diagnosed with leukemia and six months later, her only child Bryan, was diagnosed with Stage Four Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 16.

Katie’s employer was supportive as she tried to manage a full-time job and the two most important people in her life’s cancers. What Katie didn’t realize was how was she going to manage to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, update everyone on Bryan and Silvio’s conditions, deal with the offers for help, all while working and driving between two hospitals over an hour apart from each other? She was overwhelmed, wondered how families manage and didn’t even know where to look for help.

It turns out that she was not alone.

As 2007 came to an end, and both Katie’s husband and son were finishing up their cancer treatments, she began looking for organizations that help families through daily life during an illness, especially the illness of a child. In 2009, when she still hadn’t found an organization that fit the need, she began discussing the idea of creating one with her husband Silvio. With her husband’s encouragement, she did just that launching Here to Serve.org in 2011.

The Quintas family had been through so much but realized that there were so many people who had less. With Silvio’s support Katie set up her non-profit to connect and create online care communities that come in at the beginning of the health crisis to organize, friends, resources, medical information, funding, support all without overwhelming the caregiver, who is typically the parent.

As I sat at lunch and listened to Katie’s story, it was almost too much to process what she had been through but even more to grasp what she does for others. When we both went onto her web-site together and I saw what a care community looked like for a family, it was unbelievable. Once I was part of a sick patients community, I could sign up for everything from walking the dog, bringing a meal, doing laundry, running an errand, donating groceries and the list goes on. The services Here to Serve provides is everything that Katie needed when she went through this and didn’t have.

Sadly, Katie lost her beloved husband to cancer, but she said his memory still keeps her going. Katie told me, “I can’t imagine not doing this. Here to Serve gets me up in the morning, it motivates me and I was created to do this work. This is my purpose.”

Charity Matters.

 

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A beautiful picture

pablove-org

On Sunday night I curled up on the sofa for one of my favorite TV nights of the year, to watch The Golden Globes.  Unlike the Academy Awards, this show feels like you are at a party you were invited to. So when I saw this story on last night’s news, about the Golden Globes and an amazing non-profit’s photography program, I had to share….  especially since this week was already devoted to photography and how it makes our world better.

In 2008, when Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz’s son, Pablo, was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer they wanted three things; to fund research for a cure, to help educate families dealing with cancer and to improve the lives of children living with cancer through the arts.  Pablo lost his battle at only six years old but his family was determined to help others and in 2009 began the Pablove Foundation to continue their mission.

So what does this have to do with the Golden Globes you ask? Well, one of their programs is called Pablove’s Shutterbugs and the goal is to give pediatric cancer patients a new perspective through the lens of the camera, in order to learn to express themselves and find  a new way of seeing things. Well one of these little shutterbugs was the cutest paparazzi on Sunday’s Red Carpet, take a peek…

Pablo’s legacy lives on in the over 1,000 students who have been reached through Pablo’s Shutterbug program since 2011. The foundation has funded over 19 research institutes worldwide with over 1.9 million dollars given to find a cure. Now that is a picture worth smiling for.

 

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Live for Others Foundation

tim-vorenkamp

No matter how many post I write, the miracle of the human spirit always continues to inspire me and leave me in awe. The one I am about to share, is no exception. It is the story of an Orange County, CA teenager named Tim Vorenkamp who was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. A cancer so rare that is only strikes 1 to 3 out of every million. The boy as rare as his cancer, determined to make a difference with the hand he was dealt……which is exactly what he did.

Tim used his illness to help bring awareness to this horrible disease and to establish the Live for Others Foundation.

Sadly, Tim lost his battle on January 10th, 2016 but his legacy lives on in the foundation he and his family began. As he said in the video, ” Battling cancer you never lose, and you will never lose. Even if one day the fight ends! Once something like this happens, you never lose, you just start a new journey.

Charity Matters.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Glassbaby

Glassbaby Lee_Rhodes

A few years ago, I was worked to put on a Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference, that highlighted amazing women who had started incredible companies. One of our guest speakers was a woman named Lee Rhodes, the founder of Glassbaby.

Her story and business, a true social entrepreneur, where beyond inspiring. I never forgot but just recently received a Glassbaby candle as a gift and thought her story was worth sharing with you. When Lee was diagnosed with lung cancer she had an epiphany. She began to, “see the inequities of cancer, people who could not afford their chemo, the bus to get to chemo, or a lunch to sustain them through their treatment.”

So in 1995, when she was going through her third battle with cancer, as a mother of three…her husband came home from a glass blowing class with a little jar. Lee dropped a votive in his homemade creation and knew it was something special. In 1997, she began making these beautiful votives and giving them as gifts to dear friends and by 2001 Lee was selling Glassbabies out of her garage with the goal of donating as much as she could to support those with cancer.

Today, Glassbaby has donated over 3 million dollars to charities and has started their own 501c3, non-profit called the Glassbaby White Light Fund. The goal is to continue their mission of lighting the way for those in need.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Cancer Support Community

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When actor Gene Wilder passed away a few weeks back, I was reminded of his beautiful love affair with Gilda Radner and their subsequent involvement in cancer support. Wilder’s death coincided with a lunch catch up with a friend, who works for the organization that helped Gilda Radner through her battle with ovarian cancer, Cancer Support Community.

As I caught up with my friend, Meg Symes of Cancer Support Community, she told me her own story of watching her mother go through cancer in the 70s without the support, community or a place to go where it was “socially acceptable to have cancer.” When cancer struck Meg decades later, she was blessed to have the resources her mother did not. When the opportunity presented itself to be a part of supporting those with cancer Meg was all in.

Meg explained that Cancer Support Community was founded in 1982 by Dr. Harold Benjamin to provide free support, cancer education and hope. “So no one needs to face cancer alone,” patients and their families learn skills to enable them to regain control and restore hope. Patients and families can attend workshops, classes, yoga and come to a safe warm welcoming place that feels like home and gives the support needed to take on cancer.

 

In the Pasadena chapter alone, Cancer Support Community serves over 1,100 people a year, all free of charge. Today, Dr. Benjamin’s concept of providing support, education and hope for people with cancer has expanded to over 100 locations worldwide. Regardless if you were Gilda Radner, who attended the Santa Monica location or in Tokyo or someone here in Pasadena, because of people like Meg and thousands of donors and volunteers…..no one has to face cancer alone.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stand Up 2 Cancer

standup2cancerI don’t know about you, but I have always adored Katie Couric. I follow her on Instagram and for the past two weeks every day she has posted a picture and told the story of someone’s life affected by cancer. Each story more devastating than the next, with faces of children, mother’s, grandparents….each one of us knows someone who has been affected by this horrible disease.

Katie has been involved with an organization called Stand Up 2 Cancer. It began as an idea in 2008, to bring the entertainment industry together to raise funds for cancer research. Tonight, once again they will do just that.

 

Since 2008, Stand Up 2 Cancer has raised millions of dollars that have funded over one thousand cancer researchers and 19 cancer dream teams put together to end this disease. So, tonight turn on your tele to be entertained, inspired and to join in this fight that Stands Up 2 Cancer.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

When Breath becomes Air

When Ait becomes Breath

Have you ever read a book that haunted you? Spoke to you and really made you stop and think? I just finished one and I have to say, it felt as if the universe had given me a gift. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, a truly beautiful autobiography of a Stanford trained neurosurgeon who discovers he is dying of cancer.

An extraordinary view of life, from someone who spent his trying to save others. A man who loved literature and found himself pondering the question of what makes a human life meaningful? He writes early on the book, “If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?”

Paul Kalanithi wrote of his experience of both living and dying, and how his perception of both changed through his journey with cancer. One of my favorite quotes from the book was, ““There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” 

Such wise a beautiful words from a life well lived, and a legacy for all to learn from.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

Movember

Movember 15

This week is the beginning of Movember. No, this isn’t a typo but rather a movement. I was reminded last week, when my second son asked me to sponsor his fraternity’s fundraiser in support of the cause. You may recall that last November there seemed to be an unusual amount of facial hair and beards. Those beards and unshaven faces were not by accident, but rather a statement for men’s health.

A statement that all began in 2003, when two mates in a bar ( Travis Garone and Luke Slattery) were having a simple conversation about whatever happened to the moustache or the Mo, as they called it, and a joke about bringing it back. These buddies from Melbourne, Australia decided to talk their friends into growing a Mo for a purpose.  They were inspired by a friend’s mom who was raising funds for breast cancer and decided to direct their efforts towards men’s health and prostate cancer. They sent an email titled Are you man enough to be my man?  The result was 30 guys willing to take up the challenge and pay ten dollars each, towards their cause and the beginning of Movember.

Their goal started small but never wavered. These four friends wanted to recruit men who would support Movember, who by the way are called MoBros. The Mo Bros, would begin by registering at Movember.Com and start Movember 1st clean-shaven, then grow and groom their Mo, for the rest of the month, raising money along the way. In addition, these men become walking, talking billboards for their cause. Not to exclude the girls, they also started Mo Sistas, who champion their Mo by registering and supporting the Mo Bros in their life.

What started as a fun bar conversation in 2003 and 30 MoBros in Melbourne, Australia has morphed into over 4 million participants globally, who have raised more than $649 million to date. Movember, is more than a month, but rather through the power of the moustache, it has truly become a global movement that is changing the face of men’s health.

Charity Matters.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

photo via: WestFWlifestyle.com
photo via: WestFWlifestyle.com

As you know I have been thinking a lot about dreaming big and continuing on my quest living a life full of purpose. When I think about the combination of these two together, my mind immediately goes to thoughts of my amazing friend, Ann Louden. Ann is a breast cancer survivor who took her diagnosis and turned it into a purpose fueled mission. The result is her non-profit TCU Frogs for the Cure.

Ann has worked at TCU for over twenty years and over a decade ago when she heard the words, “You have cancer” she knew she needed to do something. As the ultimate connector, she engaged her Fort Worth and TCU community in finding a cure, supporting those with breast cancer and partnering to support the cross town organization Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Her organization was the first to engage college football with breast cancer and now today you can’t tun on a game in October (pro or college) without seeing pink, it all started with Ann. However that dream wasn’t big enough, she went further in creating inspiring music videos with thousands of survivors to bring everyone together in support for this cause. When the videos are downloaded from itunes, the proceeds go to fight breast cancer.

This years video will debut at the Thursday, Oct 29th at the  TCU football game vs West Virginia and is aptly done to the song,”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.   I cannot think of  a better song to describe Ann Louden and all breast cancer survivors journey to overcome and fight this disease.

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2015 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

 

A fight song

Photo via:ABC News
Photo via:ABC News

The other day I went to the dentist for my annual appointment. My dental hygienist, who has become my friend over the past decade of having my mouth held captive, did not look like her usual perky self.  I only see her twice a year but she somehow feels like a dear friend every time we visit. I asked her about her children who are the same age as mine and as the tears began to flow, she shared that her college age son was just diagnosed with cancer.

I came home devastated and in shock at how quickly lives are altered by the words, “You have cancer.” As I scrolled through Facebook as a distraction, I came across this and felt compelled to share.

Having spent over a decade at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, supporting families in crisis, this spoke to me on so many levels. Coincidentally, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Life can change on a dime, one never knows and it is the power of love, compassion and a fight song that makes it all worth the fight.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2015 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Without words

without words

I have to say that in almost four years of blogging, I have rarely been at a loss for words. I sat down to write the other day and there just wasn’t anything there. I mentioned this challenge at our family dinner table and my sons said, “You don’t have to write Mom, its ok if you take one day off.” A thought that truly had never occurred to me.

I had resigned myself to the fact that with two graduations next week and a very full plate at work, I would take today off.  However, the universe had different plans, no sooner had I made that decision, when a friend sent me this video…which of course I needed to share with you.

Tired or not, seeing compassion in action, simply never gets old. It is moments like these that inspire me to do more, give more and use my time showing the world that it is actions not words, that really matter.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2015 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally

Let it Be

ruth and karla rosen, let it be

Just hearing the words, Let it be I begin to hear the song..speaking words of wisdom, let it be…let it be. Sometimes letting it be is the most difficult thing of all. Those words were the singular wish of a young girl named Karla Rosen who was diagnosed January 7th, 2005 with a rare brain cancer. Her heartfelt desire was to “just be.”

During that year, their community rallied around their family to take care of meals, Karla’s two siblings, yard work, and all of life’s task that shift in the wake of a child’s health. The community support was overwhelming, wrist bands were made and sold to help pay the medical bills. After a year of fighting this horrible disease, Karla Rosen lost her battle with cancer on February 5th, 2006. She was 15 years old.

Her parents, found a letter in her room shortly after her death that said, “I have only known two other people with my condition: one passed away, and one has been struggling for life in the hospital for many months. I now know, because of what I am able to accomplish once again, what miracle God wanted me to pass on – the miracle of life. Thanks to my cancer, I now do not sweat the small things in life and live it to its fullest.”

With the help of the community, within months of Karla’s death, her family decided to celebrate what would have been Karla’s 16th birthday with the creation of the Let it Be Foundation.  Their mission is to provide ongoing support and services to families and children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses throughout the child’s treatment, with a focus on the entire family.

The Rosen family has taken their unbearable loss and turned it into a legacy of compassion for others. As the song says, “there will be an answer, let it be…let it be…..”

 

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2015 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

To live like you are dying

live like you were dying

What would you do if you were told you had just a few months to live? I’m not sure any of us really know that answer. We may think we do but our lives are simply too busy to think about such morbid thoughts, until we are faced with such a moment.

We all rush through life as if  it is a race, a place where someone wins and yet life isn’t about any of that. It is the moments with ones we love, the beauty all around us and in finding joy in the things that matter.

That is the choice that Brittany Maynard made when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She chose to live and to choose the day of her death as well. Her story and her message is as much about life as it is about death.

There isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said right here but when you see something like this story, it causes you to pause, to cry and to shift. With treatment, the disease’s median survival time is around 14 months, meaning that half of those live for longer than 14, and half live for less. Brittany was given six months. Doctors explained that her death would be slow and painful as her tumor grew — a worsening progression of headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and seizures. Brittany wanted to use this a starting point for a conversation, she did that with The BrittanyFund.org

As she said, “Seize the day, the world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Brittany chose to live her life on her terms, to use her experience to help others understand and to live like she was dying. Godspeed Brittany.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

TCU Frogs for a Cure: Follow Up

photo via: WestFWlifestyle.com
photo via: WestFWlifestyle.com

The main reason that I ended up in Texas last week was because of a remarkable woman named Ann Louden. You may recall that I met Ann through Charity Matters a few months back when she came to Pasadena to film a video at the Rose Bowl for her non-profit, TCU Frogs For a Cure.  She is dynamic, compassionate and determined to eradicate breast cancer.  She is a woman on a mission and she has the state of Texas cheering her on. It is no wonder that Texas is the home of The Susan G. Komen Foundation because these women make change happen.

The official video will be debuted later this month at the TCU Frogs for a Cure benefit with Former First Lady, Laura Bush.  I wanted to share a little piece of Ann’s story and passion because it is the story of thousands of women across this country.

Ann is a role model of what being Brave is all about and her passion is contagious. She has taken adversity and turned it into inspiration. As TCU Frogs for a Cure celebrates their 10 year anniversary, I am inspired by the continuing message of hope they bring to so many truly brave women.

Charity Matters.

 

Copyright © 2014 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.