I have so much to be thankful for here at For 3 Sisters, and at the top of my list is YOU! I am thankful for you. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with friends or family or with your furry besties. I hope you had a moment, or many, to reflect on all of the people, opportunities, and things that you're grateful for too!
Speaking of furry besties, I spent Thanksgiving with Hope (our therapy dog in training). She's thankful for tennis balls! She's obsessed. I swear she was born with a tennis ball in her mouth. LOL!
While I'm thankful every single day, Thanksgiving activities started a week early at For 3 Sisters. We kicked it off with the annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade in Silver Spring, MD!
Our Pink Fireman, Lt. McNeal from the Montgomery County Police Department (also a breast cancer survivor), and breast cancer survivors & thrivers, LaWanda, Kellee, and Roz bundled up warm and joined us in the For 3 Sisters truck as we paraded around along the route!
Kellee and I had a little something extra up our sleeve that morning too. We had Bundles of LOVE for LaWanda! Bundles of LOVE is a new program (one we've piloted the last few years) where we gift a breast cancer fighter, thriver, or their child with a basket/box of goodies!
We had plans to "Bundle" another thriver, Tali, but she was unable to join us at the last minute. But don't you know, we found a way! Isn't she lovely?
As Thanksgiving day approached, two women in our Road to Resources program were eagerly awaiting their Thanksgiving dinner deliveries. We had two extraordinary volunteer families who donated Thanksgiving dinner to "Ms. S" and "Ms. M", and each did so in their own remarkable way.
This is Iris, owner of Iris & Rainbow Boutique in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Iris adopted "Ms. S'" family for Thanksgiving. "Ms. S" wanted to cook her Thanksgiving meal, so Iris graciously purchased all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner and had them delivered to her home. She even purchased an extra week's worth of groceries so "Ms. S" wouldn't have to worry.
Our other volunteers, Jennifer and Sophie, a mother-daughter volunteer duo extraordinaire, prepared all the fixings for "Ms. M's" family and delivered them to her door! Jennifer and Sophie were humble about taking a picture with their fixings, so I had to improvise!
So as you can see, It's more than just turkey. For 3 Sisters has much to be thankful for! Whether you're donating your time, your money, your love and friendship, your support, YOU are truly making a difference in the life of another human being. Cancer is not an easy journey and knowing that you support For 3 Sisters and the families we serve, makes me incredibly grateful and thankful for you. Thank you!
What are you thankful for?
How many of you had a pink flamingo show up to your office yesterday? No? Just me?
Yesterday I had a few surprise visitors show up at the office. Meet Barbara, Marianne, Joan, and Frippy Anne the Flamingo. These wonderful ladies were the 2019 Pledge the Pink team, For 3 Sisters. What is Pledge the Pink? It's a pretty fantastic 3-day, 30 mile walk that takes place across three beautiful islands in South Carolina.
And while fundraising isn't a requirement for this walk, "Flockstars" (individually or as a team) that raise $5000 or more, can choose where 75% of those funds are donated. And for every $100 raised, you get a pink flamingo. That's how Frippy Anne came to the For 3 Sisters family! She was one of the fundraising flamingos earned by Team For 3 Sisters. Why Frippy? The main island for all of the festivities is Fripp Island.
And you guessed it! Team For 3 Sisters is returning to Pledge the Pink in 2020! We've started a fabulous team for 2020 and we think the more the merrier! Join us for 3 days October 15-18, 2020 for a weekend of fun, family, flamingos, and a flocking good time! Even though fundraising isn't required, For 3 Sisters has set a team goal to raise $15K - 75% ($11, 250) would be donated to For 3 Sisters!
Want to learn more or are you interested in joining Team For 3 Sisters for Pledge the Pink? Send me a message or check out our team's Facebook group. You can also learn more about the walk and register here!
In case you were wondering, Frippy Anne has her new home in my office. She looks good there, doesn't she?
Imagine for a moment that you're a truck driver who in the very early morning hours pull into a seemingly vacant lot to take a rest. A moment later a man wearing nothing but a pink tutu approaches your truck. What do you do? Well, this is a real story! The truck driver wasted no time and drove away --- quickly! The man in the tutu? Take a look for yourself:
The man in the picture is Bob Carey. He is a professional photographer, a loving and doting husband, an all out groovy dude, and the co-founder of The Tutu Project.
The Tutu Project started in 2003 after Bob learned that his beautiful wife, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer. What started as a simple way to bring laughter into a world of darkness, and to cope with his own feelings and angst, Bob started an adventure with his imagination - an imagination without limits - and a map in his mind that took him to California with the cows...
...And Brooklyn, NY in the snow....
...And even to the ballet!
These are just a few of the many beautiful, funny, uplifting photographs that Bob has created to bring joy to families affected by cancer. And it's not the only thing that Bob and Linda, and The Tutu Project are doing to support families affected by breast cancer.
The Tutu Project provides financial support and resource case management support to families affected by breast cancer by partnering with charities across the United States and awarding grants to these nonprofits to help fulfill the needs of men and women fighting this awful disease. Nonprofits like For 3 Sisters!
,We are thrilled to announce that For 3 Sisters has been awarded a $30,000 grant from The Tutu Project, continuing our partnership since 2015. Together For 3 Sisters and The Tutu Project have kept single mothers from being evicted from their homes, put food in refrigerators, kept the lights and the heat on, helped with car payments and insurance payments, helped women to choose treatment vs. quitting treatment so they could go back to work and pay their bills, and so much more.
And while we can never do what Bob does the way Bob does it (as you can see above), together we can and do truly make an impact on the lives of people affected by breast cancer. Our partnership is another year of renewed hope for men and women who hear the words "you have breast cancer". Our partnership ensures that no one will fight breast cancer alone.
Help me welcome guest blogger, Victoria Smith-Moore, to "A Day in the Life of..."! Victoria has been serving as For 3 Sisters' Development Director, and volunteer extraordinaire for the last year and I couldn't be more thankful to have her as part of our F3S family!
This photo makes me smile! Why, you ask? This photo reminds me of Breast Cancer Awareness month and the lovely people I came across and interacted with during the month. While shopping at a local store, I met lovely woman named Arlene Kolodin. Arlene asked me about my hat. She wanted to know more about For 3 Sisters and our mission. She listened intently and shared that she is a 5-year survivor. Arlene is 83 years old and was diagnosed with breast at age 78!
After hearing her story, I pulled out my mobile device and gave her a tour of the F3S website and showed her our dedication to raising awareness and improving the lives of men and women affected by breast cancer. I stressed that our mission is to be of service so that people never fight breast cancer alone.
As I was completing my purchase, Arlene handed me a $20 bill. I didn’t expect this random act of kindness but graciously accepted the cash donation. I asked if we could take a photo together but she didn’t want to do that. She agreed to write her name on the sheet of note paper shown in the picture. Before leaving the store, I handed Arlene my business card - hugged and thanked Arlene for her support.
As I think about this chance meeting with Arlene, I am forever reminded that it takes a village to make certain that men and women affected by breast cancer will never fight alone.
Until next time…
Onward and Upward!
Shweeew! I guess it's been a hot minute since I last blogged! It's certainly not because I don't love you guys. Things are hopping busy around For 3 Sisters and next thing I know, a half a year has gone by! I'll work on that. I promise! I pinky promise!
I wanted to take this beautiful summer day to introduce you to two fabulous women - Gail and Donna Lee. They've never met each other but they are now connected in a meaningful way. Meet Gail!
Gail came to For 3 Sisters when she was finishing up treatment for a Stage III breast cancer diagnosis. Through our Road to Resources program, we were able to help with her a variety of financial needs and other support, including a Christmas surprise for her and her family. The celebration was short lived, however, as Gail's headaches worsened. A few short weeks after Christmas, Gail learned she was now living with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Now meet Donna Lee! She's the woman in front with blonde hair. She's a #TeamFor3Sisters 3-day team member and a For 3 Sisters volunteer. She recently emailed me with the wonderful news that she's learning to quilt and has made a few blankets to share with some of the women we help! Little did I know just how beautiful these quilts would be.
A few weeks ago, I received a text from Gail that she was in the hospital after a medical setback. She would be in the hospital for several weeks. I immediately knew that Gail had to have one of Donna's beautiful quilts. A beautiful quilt that would keep her warm and remind her that she's not alone in her journey!
So off I went, gift bag in hand, to surprise Gail with a visit and a beautiful quilt! I caught her at dinner time but that didn't stop her from showing off her blanket of love at the dinner table!
When she saw how beautiful it was on both sides, she insisted on taking another picture!
"Ms. Shannon, the most beautiful thing about this quilt is that I'm wrapped in love. I can feel it and I'm grateful."
If you'd like to contribute your time and talents to For 3 Sisters, like Donna Lee, just let us know! It truly makes a difference in the life of someone affected by breast cancer.
Gifts are a funny thing, ya know. Many people see gifts as something given to them, wrapped up in pretty paper and topped with a bow. Sometimes people see a gift as having received money or charity or something they need but couldn't otherwise afford. Ask me? I'd say those are more like.... well, presents.
I'd like to take a moment and share the gifts that For 3 Sisters received this past Thanksgiving.
Earlier this month, I was made aware that several of our Road to Resources participants didn't have the means to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year. Whether it was financial means or even the means to muster the energy (while in treatment) to cook, it just wasn't happening. And so, For 3 Sisters set out to provide Thanksgiving meals to four families!
Our adventure started Thursday evening before Thanksgiving! I picked up two of our volunteers, Jennifer and Justin, and we fought the pre-holiday traffic to pick up dinners from Boston Market and Mission BBQ in Rockville.
Then off to deliver to the first two families!
Our first stop was to visit Gemena and her daughter, Giana! They enjoyed a Mission BBQ Thanksgiving which included a smoked turkey, and ton of fixin's. I've been told that Mission's Mac & Cheese "is life!".
Leaving the fun and shenanigans behind (Gemena and Justin are quite the hoot when they're together), we were off to deliver a Boston Market Thanksgiving to Roz and Sarah! They enjoyed a turkey with the more traditional fixin's!
After a good night's sleep, and no pressure to cook in the morning (thanks Travis & Rachel), Jamie joined me Thanksgiving morning to deliver the remaining meals to the other two families! It was an adventure - we were in uncharted territory - and we didn't get lost!
First stop was to bring Mission BBQ Thanksgiving to Michelle and her family! We met Michelle's husband and granddaughter (who took this marvelous picture, LOL).
Then off to visit Tomia and her family! It was lovely to see Tomia and her mom again but we also go to meet Tomia's daughter and granddaughter!
So are you wondering about the gifts we received - the ones I mentioned at the beginning of the post? Well you see, the families we delivered meals to think they received a gift. And perhaps to them, it was a gift. But really these families gave us a gift. They gave us the honor of sharing in their life, sharing their families, and allowing us to be a part of a day in which we share everything for which we are most thankful. You can't wrap that up in pretty paper and put a bow on it, but boy oh boy you sure can feel the love. It's special. It's a gift. And we're thankful!
Thanksgiving meals are made possible because you support For 3 Sisters with your donations! YOU made Thanksgiving possible for these four families. Thank you!
Special thanks to Jamie Hamilton, Jennifer McNeal, and Justin Chuckerel for volunteering to deliver meals to these families.
And special thanks to Patty Gee, Kathryn Loftus, Kellee Southern, Janice Chiddoo, and Karin Kane for making special donations to offset the costs for the meals.
And a great big thanks to Todd at Mission BBQ in Rockville, MD for donating a turkey to one of these families! Their food is delicious, so stop in for lunch and give Todd a huge thanks!
Today was my first day back in the office after a much needed week of rest and relaxation. Marshall (The Pink Fireman) and I took our first vacation together last week since we started For 3 Sisters six years ago. One of our dear friends gifted us a week at his family's beach house in the Outer Banks. We stayed in a little beach town called Avon. It was wonderful. Off season - quiet - relaxing - and even still somewhat warm for most of the week.
One day we stopped at a local place called Sonny's Restaurant located in Hatteras Village. Everyone was so friendly! As we ate our lunch, the waitress stopped by our table and commented on our truck. The staff loved it! She visited a moment and shared stories about her connection with cancer and then went off to serve other guests.
About the time we were finishing, our waitress returned and proceeded to crumple up the check in front of us. The owner wouldn't let us pay for lunch. And our waitress, she wouldn't let us leave a tip. She thanked us for our work and insisted that we let her serve us today. And if that wasn't wonderful enough, the owner came to visit with us and supported For 3 Sisters with a very generous donation. The day was surreal. The moment was absolutely beautiful. If you're ever in this neck of the woods, please stop by Sonny's! The food was delicious, the service was impeccable, and the support - they treat ya like family! And ya know how I feel about family!
We also made a special trip to see the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It was beautiful. It towered above us and it was remarkable to learn the history of how this mammoth 12-story structure served as a beacon of light for ships to navigate safely in the dark through the treacherous shoals of the Outer Banks.
In that moment, Marshall and I renewed our steadfast commitment to For 3 Sisters and to you. We are committed to serving each of you to our fullest capacity. For 3 Sisters, like this lighthouse, will continue to be a beacon of hope to those lost in the dark --- the darkness that is breast cancer. You will never fight breast cancer alone!
Don't let the twinkle in her eye or that beautiful smile fool you. Behind that smile lay a twistedly funny sense of humor, and a ferocious, no nonsense, determination to beat her sworn enemy into oblivion. She was wickedly fierce, a whole lot of stubborn, a bit ornery, and undeniably determined that Metastatic Breast Cancer would not define who she was. Her name was Lisa Sloat. And she was a breast cancer ass kicker to her very last breath.
Lisa was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2012 after successfully beating early stage breast cancer a few years earlier. Her hip had broken while she slept. The cancer returned and metastasized to her bones. She learned that day that she'd have a long journey of treatments and surgeries ahead of her, but that didn't stop Lisa. And it didn't squash her uncanny ability to laugh in cancer's face.
Lisa came into my life in early 2014 when she enrolled into our Road to Resources program. I remember thinking to myself, if I was a beer drinker, she'd be a fun lady to sit and have a beer with. She was gritty and she was tough. Looking back I think that's why she thrived all these years. We shared many late night conversations, long text messages, celebrations, and even a few cries.
But then she got the news a few weeks ago that the last of her treatment options had failed and she should start making her final plans. Those plans included a trip to Disney World with her best friend. She fought tooth and nail to be well for that trip; though her body had other plans for her. Despite a lengthy stay in the hospital, they sent Lisa home on hospice. And you know what she said when she got there.....
I didn't come home on hospice to die. I came home to rest so I COULD FIGHT!"
And fight she did --- until her very last breath last night surrounded by friends and her two fur-babies.
Rest in Peace, Lisa. Your ring says it all.
***Note: The photographer, Lisa Otto, is not the same Lisa in this story.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we're nearly half way through it! I'm always humbled by the number of people who host fundraisers to support For 3 Sisters and the men and women we serve. This month we have quite a few awesome 3rd party fundraisers we wanted to share with you!
And special thanks for those who hosted fundraisers this month that have already finished:
Wife Behind the Fire
Pampered Chef by Marne Tragert
Hoffman Chevrolet Cadillac in Hagerstown, MD is donating $50 to For 3 Sisters for every vehicle sold in the month of October! Here's their information:
Address: 101 S. Edgewood Drive, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740
Wine Shop at Home's, Mrs. Heather Sherbert is donating 10% of her October sales to For 3 Sisters. You can order directly on her website here.
Left to Right:
*Milano Rose of Sangiovese- watermelon and strawberry flavors $25.00
*le Cadeau Rose Sparkling- Bubbly Rendevous with orange blossom, raspberry, and watermelon aromas $30.00
*Fact Blush- Sweet Rose Wine- strawberry and raspberry jam flavors $21.00
Avon representative, Kiyaunda Bailey, is donating 40% of your purchase from Avon's Give Hope line to For 3 Sisters! But wait! Avon is donating 20% of the net proceeds of their Pink Hope products to the Avon Foundation too, so your purchase goes twice as far! Click here to browse and make a purchase! Make sure you mention For 3 Sisters!
Pure Romance consultant, Sheila Tempchin, is donating 10% of October's party sales to For 3 Sisters!
If you're interested in hosting a party or are in need of products, contact Sheila at 410-913-5963 or at email@example.com
Learn more about Pure Romance here.
Jessica Joseph, a SeneGence independent distributor, is donating 10% of her October sales to For 3 Sisters! Check her group out here!
When is a garden not a garden? When it's a sanctuary. This weekend friends and family gathered at the home of their friend, Susan, to help turn an overgrown, lackluster flower bed and front porch into a beautiful respite garden full of love.
Susan, a young single mom, was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer just before Thanksgiving last year. Her friend Terri reached out to For 3 Sisters and told us of their upcoming garden day - a day spent to honor Susan and to create a sanctuary in which she could sit and enjoy the beauty, the flowers, the butterflies, and the birds. A place that would bring smiles to her face, peace, comfort, and healing.
As the final planning came together, the garden crew learned they'd only raised 50% of what they needed to complete their project of love. And with that, For 3 Sisters was honored and proud to sponsor the remaining funds needed for Susan's sanctuary!
I asked Marshall, our founder and Pink Fireman, how he felt about being a part of Susan's garden project.
"I think it's great! This garden is a perfect example how a person, who has a friend or loved one affected by breast cancer, can improve the quality of life for their loved one while they're in treatment. "It doesn't always have to be about jumping out of airplanes or going to see the Grand Canyon. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is right in their own front yard."
Susan's garden crew cleared out the old stuff, pressure washed porch furniture and fixtures, spruced up the paint, trimmed bushes on the property, planted new flowers, and put down fresh mulch! And though we had to leave before the final reveal, we captured some "work in progress photos"!
Susan is a beautiful, funny, spirited young woman who is clearly loved by many. It was a wonderful gift to witness the outpouring of love and unconditional support by Susan and Gabby's friends. The laughter and smiles that filled her yard this weekend are sure to help all the beautiful plants and flowers to flourish. Of this I'm sure! #susanstrong
Shannon Moneymaker is the Executive Director of F3S and experiences life in the breast cancer community, not through just her own eyes but through the eyes of others.
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