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Defining Support, The Cancer Mom Series: Kellie

In one split second, their world changed forever.   A scary and isolating job that no woman could ever prepare for.  Regardless of the type of cancer, the experience is long and difficult. Regardless of remissions, cures or unimaginable loss, cancer is part of their lives forever.  Their moments in life are now marked by haunting memories and inconceivable feelings.  Their family’s timeline is now marked by ‘before’ or ‘after cancer’. We are working during the month of May in honor of Cancer Moms everywhere, fighting for their kids. We will share stories of many incredible Cancer Moms this month and how they define support.  We want to be their voices, reminding you all that the ONLY way we can make things better for kids fighting cancer is to do something about it. We hope we all find ways to lighten the load for our friends, neighbors and family members struggling quietly, valiantly, every single day, to keep their children alive. Donate today in honor of a mom. Donate in honor of a child. Your donation to ISF helps fund pediatric cancer research in our local community.

By Kellie Andrew

Kellie is Mom to Brinn, who was diagnosed with stage 3 high risk neuroblastoma in December 2018.  Brinn is currently 2 years old and in treatment at Levine Children’s Hospital. 

There’s a lot going on in our family.  Happy and sad. Hard and then even harder. Our heads are just above water most days.  But we are finding a way to be okay.  I recently said that we live just one day at a time.  But that’s not true.  It’s really one moment at a time.  Sometimes the days are just too long and hard to think about.

The word ‘support’ for me personally is very broad. It means a card, a comment on social media, sharing a story online, a text, or phone call. Support means a meal, a gas card, a basket of items on my front porch, the offer to mow the yard or clean my home. It means a coffee mug, a soft blanket, an eye mask, and a new nail polish. It means a self-help book, being added to a prayer list, or coming to visit and just listen. Support means offering to watch the kids so we can go have dinner and have a moment to ourselves. 

I also feel extremely supported through the hospital and clinic. I feel heard and respected as her mother at all times. I feel that my thoughts are valued, which encourages me to be a part of each step in her treatment. 

Support means just knowing that someone else is thinking of us and making a point to let us know. 

I can only speak from my experience but without the things I mentioned above I feel that I’d really be struggling much more. I do feel I have a ‘job’ to keep everything together—physically and emotionally—for my family. That is pressure I put on myself. What’s the saying, ‘If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy?’ There is so much truth to that! I don’t want anyone to worry about me not being good. Getting a quick text or opening a card in the mail or having lunch arrive at the hospital from someone lifts my spirits. It makes me see just how good people can be, just because they want to be; restores my faith in others. In turn, I want to put that gratitude and happiness back into my family. 

Donate in honor of these incredible women, your donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation helps fund research so desperately needed for rare pediatric cancer patients.

MAY CANCER MOM SERIES:

A Passion To Help Make An Impact On Pediatric Cancer

Full blog article on The Untamed Mind

L-R: KJ’s Dad, Isabella’s Mom, KJ. 2018 ISF 5K/10K

“Dyson and all the kids I have had the opportunity to meet are heroes. They are our future. They need all of the help they can get so that they can become the firefighters, doctors, professional athletes, artists, musicians, politicians, and teachers they all wish to be when they grow up. We all once dreamed big and still are. We have to make sure the kids in our world never feel like they have to stop dreaming. That the dreams they have can become reality. Every kid deserves that much. Every kid deserves the one thing that is vital for their growth and happiness….” – KJ Brent, NFL Wide Receiver & ISF supporter since the beginning.

KJ Brent, then a local high school footballer and family friend, was only 18 years old when Isabella passed away.  KJ and his family attended her Celebration of Life and something moved in him that moment forward… and that something hasn’t stopped.

KJ went on to play football in college and the NFL.  He is currently a Wide Receiver with the Tampa Bay Buccanears , is married to his high school sweetheart and continues to find ways to give back and impact kids fighting cancer.  We are so proud of the positive role model he has come to be and love that he feels just as much lift from these little heroes fighting for their lives.

His latest blog brought us to tears. To watch a young man reach for his dreams and want to help kids fighting cancer do the same… well, it’s simply just awesome.  You can’t teach heart and this guy has boatloads of it. Read K.J.’s blog article.

#cancermessedwith #cancermessedwiththewrongbuc

Isabella Santos Foundation Announces 2019 Board of Directors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – May 13, 2019 – The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) announced today its slate of 2019 Board Members. 

  • Neil Aldridge, Global Channel Partnerships, Gold Group Enterprises
  • Meredith Dean, Seacrest Studios Program Coordinator at Levine Children’s Hospital & Founder at the Dean’s List
  • Matt DuBois, Owner, Centurion Entertainment
  • Suzie Ford, Owner, NoDa Brewing Company
  • Charlotte Guice, Owner, Charlotte Guice Designs, LLC
  • Jay Levell, Partner, White Point Partners
  • Jacob Lewison, Marketing Manager, QCarolina Restaurants, LLC
  • Jonathan McFadden, Content Strategist/CopyWriter, Lending Tree
  • Tim Miner, Co-Founder, Charlotte is Creative, Co-Host Creative Mornings
  • Barbara Morgan, Owner, Brixx Pizza
  • Jennifer Pope, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology MD, Atrium Health
  • Blair Primis, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Talent Management, OrthoCarolina
  • Sandra Szoke, Partner, Impact Marketing Partners
  • Jacob Virgil, Senior Associate & SEO Lead, Red Ventures
  • Matt Yarmey, Owner, Pure Intentions Coffee

“We are very grateful for our incredible board of directors who bring amazing talent and experience in serving our organization and in impacting our local pediatric cancer community,” said Erin Santos executive director and president of the Isabella Santos Foundation. “Their dedication personally and through their respective companies is one of the reasons why Charlotte is the best city with the most giving community. We are proud to have them behind us.”  

About Isabella Santos Foundation

The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) is a 501(c)3 childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research for rare pediatric cancers, and charities that directly impact the lives of children with cancer. ISF was founded in honor of Isabella Santos from Charlotte, N.C. who lost her battle against neuroblastoma. ISF is committed to improving rare pediatric cancer treatment options in an effort to increase the survival rate of kids with cancer so they can live their dreams. ISF has donated over $3 million to date to expand the scope of pediatric cancer research and treatment, and to fill various needs surrounding childhood cancers. 

For more information, visit https://isabellasantosfoundation.org/ or follow ISF on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IsabellaSantosFoundation), Instagram (www.instagram.com/theisfoundation), Twitter (www.twitter.com/TheISFoundation) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/isabella-santos-foundation/)

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CONTACT:

Jenni Walker – Walker PR Group – 980-339-8041-office/704-649-6571-cell

jenni@walkerprgroup.com

Defining Support, The Cancer Mom Series: Nicole

In one split second their world changed forever.   A scary and isolating job that no woman could ever prepare for.  Regardless of the type of cancer, the experience is long and difficult. Regardless of remissions, cures or unimaginable loss, cancer is part of their lives forever.  Their moments in life are now marked by haunting memories and inconceivable feelings.  Their family’s timeline is now marked by ‘before’ or ‘after cancer’. We are working during the month of May in honor of Cancer Moms everywhere, fighting for their kids. We will share stories of many incredible Cancer Moms this month and how they define support.  We want to be their voices, reminding you all that the ONLY way we can make things better for kids fighting cancer is to do something about it. We hope we all find ways to lighten the load for our friends, neighbors and family members struggling quietly, valiantly, every single day, to keep their children alive. Donate today in honor of a mom. Donate in honor of a child. Your donation to ISF helps fund pediatric cancer research in our local community.

By Nicole Yudin

Nicole is Mom to Zach, who is battling Leukemia for a second time.

Nicole & Zach

Support comes in many different forms, I think.  There’s financial support where family, friends and even organizations provide monies for travel expenses, medical expenses, grocery expenses, etc.  Basically, financial support to me is what helps us to keep the bills paid and food on the table.  Then I think of support in the form of gifts.  These are mostly material things that are given to our family, mostly to Zach, to say “we love you” or “we’re fighting with you”.  We take these things to the hospital to help pass the time.  Zach is a BIG time Lego fan and he has spent lots of time at the hospital building Legos.  People are very good at gift giving, and while the support is truly thoughtful, and I am grateful for it, there definitely comes a point when you just have too much stuff.  People have the best of intentions in giving gifts but you definitely become inundated with things that you just don’t need or your child is not interested in.  But, I think gift giving makes people feel good and it’s easy for them to do. 

Finally, and the most important to me personally, is emotional support.  I need this more than any other form of support.  It seems so easy to give emotionally in my own mind, yet it seems to be so difficult for people to do.  Well, it’s not difficult for other Cancer Moms.  They get it.  I honestly get the most out of someone taking 10 seconds of their day to send me a “Thinking of you” text or other personal message.  That’s it.  That’s all I need.  And, now going through cancer twice with my son, unfortunately, those messages have become fewer and farther between.  Most often, and this is to be expected, it’s my other Cancer Mom friends who send me those messages.  Again, they get it.  I have a facebook page that I write on almost daily about Zach and what’s going on, and I have so many people who are reading it and making comments.  This truly is support.  But, it’s that friend who sends me the personal message that makes me feel the most supported.  Does that make sense?  It’s wonderful to have all of these people cheering for Zach, praying for Zach, sending all their good vibes for Zach and they do this by reading my FB page.  But, selfishly, I write that page for myself.  To express how I feel, to share the raw reality of childhood cancer.  I’m glad people read it.  At least, if nothing else, it’s creating awareness of childhood cancer and maybe it will spawn people into action.  But, like I said, send me that text message or other personal message, that’s what helps me the most. 

It is important to support Cancer Moms simply because we are living a life that we never thought we’d have to live.  We have endured so much, but more importantly, we have watched our children go through so much and that is beyond-words painful.  People may not know what it’s like to live in our world but they need to be present.  They need to make the effort to reach out to me and not the other way around with “let me know if you need anything.

Donate in honor of these incredible women, your donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation helps fund research so desperately needed for rare pediatric cancer patients.

MAY CANCER MOM SERIES:

Defining Support, The Cancer Mom Series: Christie

In one split second their world changed forever.   A scary and isolating job that no woman could ever prepare for.  Regardless of the type of cancer, the experience is long and difficult. Regardless of remissions, cures or unimaginable loss, cancer is part of their lives forever.  Their moments in life are now marked by haunting memories and inconceivable feelings.  Their family’s timeline is now marked by ‘before’ or ‘after cancer’. We are working during the month of May in honor of Cancer Moms everywhere, fighting for their kids. We will share stories of many incredible Cancer Moms this month and how they define support.  We want to be their voices, reminding you all that the ONLY way we can make things better for kids fighting cancer is to do something about it. We hope we all find ways to lighten the load for our friends, neighbors and family members struggling quietly, valiantly, every single day, to keep their children alive. Donate today in honor of a mom. Donate in honor of a child. Your donation to ISF helps fund pediatric cancer research in our local community.

By Christie Baucom

Christie is Mom to Ethen, who was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma at 13 months old. Ethen is currently 3-years old and is in remission.

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of the word “support” as a cancer mom is “essential.” I view support as the provision of something that meets the needs of the patient, the parent, or the family – financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually. Support can come in a myriad of ways, seemingly little or huge, and all are helpful and necessary. Fighting cancer alongside your child often feels lonely and crippling, and we found that the support of others upheld us and literally fed and sheltered us at times.

Christie & Ethen

Now being a couple years past diagnosis, I have thought often on what was most helpful to us as others supported us in the fight. If I could summarize my thoughts on what to say to someone who wants to support a cancer parent, I would say this:  Be there – be there often, be there patiently, be there for the long-haul, be there when the parent feels like others have moved on, be there to meet needs as you see and hear them. And never stop fighting when the fight “seems” over. “Being there” may look like sending a text, mailing a card or care package, sitting in a hospital room or home in silence or tears, seeing cords and lines and scars and vomit that make you uncomfortable, listening to a friend vent, providing food or gift cards or a meal-train, praying with faith when the family feels none, doing laundry, helping to pay rent or utilities. For us it even looked like friends bringing a game into the PICU to make us laugh a little and bring a little life in the midst of darkness or driving over six hours in a day with donuts and snack replenishments. We saw the sacrifices others made for us and the care they had for our son, and we felt strengthened and less alone. Another huge support for us – and one that continues to be a support to us – is when others care about and give to the organizations and research we are passionate about. 

Christie & Ethen

One point I want to emphasize is being there for the long-haul and when others have moved on. A cancer mom’s fight, and more than that her child’s fight, does not end when the heavy stages of treatment end. We do not return to “normal” – we are forever changed in many good ways and possibly also in some hard or ugly ways. In my interactions with other cancer moms, many of us actually struggle more emotionally when our child is no longer in active or intense treatment – our roles change and survival mode fades into anxiety mode. Stay by that mom’s side, continue to be there to listen, be patient when she is paranoid or anxious, continue to step in alongside her to fight for better for her child or other children who will be diagnosed afterwards, help her know that she and her child still matter when the hundreds to thousands of “followers” are no longer checking in everyday. A mom may not know how to best say thank you, but we are grateful often beyond expression and we are able to fight because of those who do it with us.

Donate in honor of these incredible women, your donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation helps fund research so desperately needed for rare pediatric cancer patients.

MAY CANCER MOM SERIES:

Christie & Ethen

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