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ISF 2017 $1 Million Goal Hit!

$1,000,000 was our 2017 fundraising goal. $1,025,467 was raised! We are beside ourselves with excitement and extremely grateful for your support. Thank you to our volunteers and employees that work tirelessly towards our foundation mission.

We set a very specific objective behind our 2017 goal… bringing a MIBG room to Levine Children’s Hospital. This new-state-of-the-art MIBG room will help families with kids facing cancer.  Charlotte will be one out of 20 hospitals in the country that will be able to offer this to patients. We are excited to see ground break in March in honor of Isabella’s birthday and look forward to sharing more specific developments as this new pediatric cancer treatment room and program developments.

ISF helped  fund the Frontline MIBG Therapy project trial through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) last year. This trial hopes to reduce the number of children who relapse and reduce the burden of late effects of therapy. It will be ready for children across the country in late 2018 where an MIBG room is available.  It is very exciting that Levine Children’s Hospital will be able to offer this advanced therapy.

WHAT IS MIBG? A cutting edge, targeted therapy used to treat relapsed or high-risk neuroblastoma with little to no pain and side effects. This treatment requires a highly specialized team to deliver the therapy and a special room to assure that patients, family, and health care providers are safe.

WHY IS BUILDING A ROOM SO EXPENSIVE? The room is specifically designed for this type of therapy and is created with lead shielding due to the radioactive nature of the treatment. These lead walls provide the highest level of protection for patients and families. The MIBG room will have an adjoining suite so the patient will always be close to their family.

New Year, New Look, New Life

Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

January 1st, 2018 just seems unreal.  What seems more unreal is 10 years of ISF behind us.  We started out that first year when Isabella was diagnosed and raised $7,000.  Our 2017 books are closing and we hit the goal we had in place of 1 million dollars raised.  Unbelievable.  It makes me wonder where this little “project” of ours is going to go.  With an even bigger goal in 2018, as well as a new treatment room in construction, in her name, opening its doors later this year, I know there is so much more ahead of us to accomplish.

With growth, comes change… some good and some bad.  Isabella will always be the true Founder of this organization and her face will forever be tied to all we are doing.  However, as a growing foundation, we have realized that giving in her honor the last couple of years has propelled us to success we never would have imagined.  But now, we want to refocus our organization on the children we are trying to save today.  I have always said there is an Isabella in every city.  And as we expand into new cities and markets, it is becoming painfully obvious that there are children everywhere who are in the fight of their lives.  We want to start introducing you to these children, their families and their stories.  They need your help to fight this disease that still has a survivor rate that would break any parent’s heart.  We also want to start educating our supporters on other rare cancers that can benefit from the treatments we are funding.  Neuroblastoma is scary, but there are other cancers out there with ineffective treatments and without organizations like ours in their corner, kids have very little chance for a cure.  Every child’s life is worth saving and we want to spread our wings a little more with your help.

I’m excited about the upcoming changes in our focus because even I need to put my memories of Isabella in a safe place.  For years I told myself that we were different.  We could handle loss and turn this horrible tragedy into something that could potentially change the lives of others.  While we are doing this, unfortunately, it came at a price.  Death changes people and we are not exempt from this.

I always look back at the person I was before cancer, during cancer, and even during her death.  I’ve referred to it as a movie I watch because that person seems unrecognizable to me now.  Her death has made me independent and strong, focused and determined.  But it has also made me closed off and cold at times.  I can be a hard person to get to know because her death has built a fortress around me.  I find solace in being alone, my anxiety can take me over completely and I find at times that I want to run from everything.  While losing a child makes you realize how important every minute is with your other children, sometimes it comes at a price to others in your life.

I don’t know why we hurt the ones we love the most.  We just do.  And sometimes we can’t stop doing it.  Death changed me a lot, and it changed Stuart too.  The person you once went to battle with becomes the new battle.  You find yourself just trying to get through the day and the other person becomes the casualty of this.   One thing remained consistent through our grief, our love for her, our kids and all that ISF is accomplishing.  But, I think we have just hit a time in our life when we want to find happiness again, and sometimes that happiness isn’t together.

While I feel like this is a very personal subject, I have never shied away from my life being an open book.  I felt like it was important to let the supporters of ISF know that nothing is changing with ISF.  Even though Stuart and I are no longer together, we still stand together and will do everything we can to continue to grow the foundation and make a difference in her name.  I love when we are together at an event and people say to me, “You would never know about the changes behind the scenes in your family.  You guys seem stronger than ever.”   Maybe because the love that kept her alive for so long will always be there for each other because we know the other one has been to hell and back.  There is too much history to be any other way.  So that is all you will see.  We will always be together for her.

We hope these changes will not impact the support for all we are doing together.  My belief is this is just a new start to a big year ahead and we are so proud of what we have accomplished.  This is just the beginning… maybe just a new beginning.

Grief Shocks…

It will hit you like a rock – how so very MUCH you miss someone, your breath catches, your tears flow, and the sadness can be so great that it’s physically painful. Like the wind knocked the air out of you. The aftershocks of losing someone, even if it’s been five years… the grief shocks.

The loss of a child is a grief that lasts forever. Grief comes on in waves, especially during holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. There will always be another year older that she should have been, her handmade ornaments will always be placed on the Christmas tree by someone other than herself, and the empty chair at the holiday dinner table will never be filled.

Isabella in Chistmas Jammies

Last week we ran into Mrs. Chrissy at lunch. As many of you know, Chrissy was Isabella’s best friend. Yes, Chrissy is an an adult… but if Isabella wasn’t with her parents or grandmother, she was with Mrs. Chrissy. They did it all together. We exchanged small talk before deciding to all sit down over lunch to catch up. Immediately her lip started quivering and her eyes teared up. She started to explain that she has been doing so well until this past week… she is tripping all over Isabella. Memories hurt, especially during this holiday time. Memories that are causing grief shocks.

“I laid in bed and decided to pull out my Sudoku book, it’s been years since I have brought myself to play. I open up the book and who was the last person to work on a Sudoku puzzle? Isabella. Its like she is making sure I don’t forget her.”

Isabella, Grant and Sophia in Christmas Jammies

Isabella was Chrissy’s shopping partner. Especially during the holidays. Chrissy even bought Isabella a Hanukkah outfit, just an excuse to buy her a pretty dress. Pictured here is Isabella with Grant and Sophia… in Christmas pjs that Chrissy bought them. Chrissy went on to mention that she still hasn’t been able to put up a Christmas Tree in her house since Isabella died. She continues to tend to her memorial site at Calvary Church and took Isabella a Christmas Tree instead.

Grief looks so different on everyone. No grief is right and no grief is wrong. And no amount of time, even if it has been five years, will change the way one feels. Our hearts go out to all those grieving and tripping over their lossed loved ones this holiday season. We hope your grief shocks become a little less intense and you can breathe in the moment of the season.

Give a tax deductible contribution in honor of someone special who is currently fighting cancer or in remembrance of a loved one who lost their battle. It’s a form of action and beautiful memory.

DONATE: isabellasantosfoundation.org/donate-to-isf/

(Remember that many companies will match your contribution. A great way to increase your impact.)

ISABELLA SANTOS FOUNDATION RAISES $30,000, GIFT SUPPORTS NEUROBLASTOMA RESEARCH AT NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Columbus, OH – 12/6/2017

The Isabella Santos Foundation has raised and donated $30,000 to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to honor the memory of their daughter, Isabella, and to advance pediatric cancer research.
“We are very grateful to the Isabella Santos Foundation for their generosity and dedication to supporting the research that is so important to so many of our families,” said Steve Testa, senior vice president and executive director of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation. “This gift helps us continue to discover new ways to deliver the best possible care to our patients, who come to Nationwide Children’s from across the country and around the globe.”
This generous gift was raised during a silent auction at the Isabella Santos Foundation’s inaugural Ohio chapter event, “Cocktails for a Cure,” in August. Attendees gathered to learn about pediatric cancer research, treatments and programs that impact local children in the central Ohio community. All of the proceeds from the event benefitted neuroblastoma research at Nationwide Children’s.
“We are thrilled to have expanded our organization into Ohio and Nationwide Children’s,” said Erin Santos, president of the Isabella Santos Foundation and Isabella’s mom. “This event was part of our one million dollar goal this year, and next year we look forward to doubling our impact and moving the needle forward on pediatric cancer research, honoring Isabella the entire way.”
The second annual Columbus event will be held in May 2018.
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About the Isabella Santos Foundation
The Isabella Santos Foundation is a tax-deductible 501 (c) 3 that was created in honor of Isabella Santos, who fought Neuroblastoma for over 5 years. The goal of the Foundation is to raise money and awareness for Neuroblastoma research, provide financial assistance to families with children who are suffering from cancer as well as provide financial support for organizations that support children with cancer.
About Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 list of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric healthcare systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of nearly 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.4 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.

He wasn’t there in the beginning or the end…

Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy

It’s been a long 5 years but relationships are growing and changing at Levine Children’s Hospital.  I’ve gone from admiration and love, to fear and anxiety and then back again with these doctors.  The walls and people that once crippled me upon entering after Isabella’s death have become a second home to me.  I know I can joke a lot about how a large donation commitment can buy you a hospital friendship, but it’s become much more than that.  I feel like I have become so much stronger around them.  Just a few years ago, I could barely stand without my knees buckling when I knew Dr. Kaplan was going to be at an ISF event.  Then, this past July – I find myself in the oncology clinic helping give gifts to the kids for our Christmas in July event.  I feel  him coming down the hall before I even see him, just like it used to be –  and my heart still stops for a minute.  We exchange pleasantries and hugs – like you do with an old boyfriend who you run into at a Starbucks years later.  It’s uncomfortable because there was history… but it’s becoming more comfortable because there IS history.  Not sure if I can ever feel totally comfortable around him – but I’m trying really hard.

Luckily, my new contact at Levine isn’t my old boyfriend Dr. Kaplan  🙂  As I sat in the “Green Room” of the NBC Charlotte news studio this week for over an hour with Dr. Javier Osterheld (one of Isabella’s past oncologists), I found myself comfortable and enjoying the company. We were together to talk on air about the MIBG treatment room ISF is funding at Levine’s.  We talked about all things cancer, the hospital, family, beer and other things that might be tad inappropriate.  I found myself laughing and enjoying the company of a man who I wasn’t the biggest fan of several years ago.  Cancer can make you love and hate people all in the same week.  He is easier for me because we don’t have the 5 year history that I had with Kaplan.  He wasn’t there in the beginning or the end.

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We talked about his training with Isabella’s Dream Team and I asked him how many half-marathons he had done in the past.  His answer… “This is my first.  And I’m doing it for you and Isabella.”  Maybe he was bullied into doing it at first, but maybe he’s just really an amazing guy and we lose that vision of these doctors when they give us horrible news about our children.  It brought me back to my ‘Why I loved Him’ blog post  about how you go through these feelings of total admiration for these people because your child’s life is in their hands.  You put this God-like complex on them and they don’t ask for that.  In the end, they really are just normal people who like you have jobs they love and are just trying to save the life of kids.  But they are also people who drink beer, and make fun of themselves and laugh and cuss… just like you.
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I find that through Isabella’s death, new things come to life, like friendships with people you once hated that were really only trying to save her.  I can see them all more clearly now – and they are all amazing people.

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