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
A Tutu is more than a tutu when it makes an impact. Wait, what? What's a tutu you ask?
You know, it's that fabric-y looking thing you wear around your waist --- like a ballerina. Here --- like this:
Okay, okay so not EVERYONE wears a tutu quite like this guy does but that's what makes his tutu so special. Actually, it's what makes HIM and THE TUTU PROJECT so special! Meet Bob Carey, also known as Ballerina Bob, in the breast cancer community.
During a TEDMED talk, Bob shared that he uses self-portraiture as a form of therapy; a way to help him deal with life when it throws him a curve ball. When his beautiful wife, Linda, was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer, Bob took his self-therapy to a new place. That place involved a pink tutu.... and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon....
And a bunch of other really cool and beautiful places....
What started as a means for Bob to cope with his own feelings about Linda's diagnosis, and a means to bring light and laughter into a dark place in Linda's life, quickly turned into a viral sensation and a global phenomenon. Bob and his pink tutu, better known now as The Tutu Project, is a beacon of hope, of light, and inspiration to people across the world looking for that special and powerful little something that reminds them that no matter what lay ahead of them, it's okay to smile and it's okay to laugh - you are not alone.
And that's Linda - the inspiration, the love, the life behind The Tutu Project. She's amazing! Not a day goes by where she isn't doing something amazing within the breast cancer community, The Tutu Project, The Carey Foundation, or their photography business, Bob Carey Photography. Linda has been living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and though the disease does not define who she is, she epitomizes the sheer grit and determination it takes to thrive with MBC - and she makes it look effortless.
So why am I telling you all about The Tutu Project and Bob and Linda Carey? Because I'm proud to announce that For 3 Sisters was selected to receive a $15,000 grant from The Tutu Project! We have been partners in the endeavor to improve the quality of life of men and women affected by breast cancer since 2015, and it is because of their generosity, past and present, that our Road to Resources program can continue to grow and flourish, and provide personalized resource case management services and financial support to men and women fighting and surviving breast cancer!
We are honored that The Tutu Project of The Carey Foundation continues to believe in our mission and to invest in our Road to Resources program, allowing us to provide quality, personalized support to the breast cancer community across the United States.
I invite you to check out the Tutu Project and The Carey Foundation for yourselves, and share the love you have for For 3 Sisters with them, as well. Support for them is support for us too. Starting October 1 thru November 3, they are hosting their #Dare2Tutu campaign! Check it out - it's a ton of fun, you can win some great prizes, AND you're raising money to help men and women affected by breast cancer!
Will you #Dare2Tutu?
Another summer is winding down. Pumpkin spice EVERYTHING is already finding its way onto the shelves and into every food and drink concoction imaginable. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just under a month away. Time just doesn't ever seem to slow down. Does it feel that way to you too?
It's been pretty busy here at For 3 Sisters. We celebrated the grand opening of our new headquarters on July 27th! It was a great evening of friendship, celebration, recognition, and charity! If you weren't able to join us, you were certainly missed!
I HAVE MORE GREAT NEWS TO SHARE WITH YOU!
Now that our grand opening is behind us, I have more great news to share with you!
I'm excited to announce that For 3 Sisters has two new corporate sponsors -
Spartan Medical and JBH Innovation!
For 3 Sisters Welcomes
Spartan Medical, Inc., and JBH Innovation as Corporate Sponsors
Olney, MD, August 31, 2017 – For 3 Sisters, a national grassroots breast cancer advocacy organization, is proud to announce Spartan Medical, Inc. and sister company, JBH Innovation, as corporate sponsors. The commitment to support those affected by breast cancer hits close to home as one of Spartan’s own, Jamie Bulken-Hoover, passed away after a valiant battle with breast cancer one year ago.
“The executive team of Spartan Medical, and the entire Spartan family, lost our finest in July 2016 to metastatic breast cancer…too early and far too suddenly,” says Vince Proffitt, President, Spartan Medical, and cofounder of JBH Innovation. “Jamie Bulken-Hoover was a model American, an incredible physician, a brilliant biomedical engineer, a decorated U.S. Military Officer, and a cherished daughter, mother, wife, and friend…her loss is incalculable to so many. In her memory and honor, we created JBH Innovation in April 2017 with the mission to proudly lead the way to create real solutions to the surgical problems clinicians deal with daily and to improve patient care in the DoD, VA Healthcare System, and civilian hospitals, nationwide. Part of our DNA has always been to give back and to support worthy causes that we care passionately about, and it took mere seconds to choose For 3 Sisters for all of us. In honor of Jamie, we look forward to partnering with For 3 Sisters now, and for years to come.”
Contributions from Spartan Medical and JBH Innovation will further For 3 Sisters’ mission to raise awareness and improve the quality of life for men and women affected by breast cancer.
“We are honored to have sponsors that are deeply committed to the breast cancer community,” says Shannon Moneymaker, Executive Director, For 3 Sisters. “With the contributions from sponsors, we can help breast cancer fighters and survivors with their needs long after treatment. Financial and emotional challenges faced by breast cancer fighters and survivors is a public crisis that affects an alarmingly high number of people in our nation, including women and men.”
Where does the time go! I can't believe I haven't blogged since April. Well, I guess I can believe it because things have been super busy and exciting around here and I can finally make the official announcement!
WE'VE OFFICIALLY OPENED OUR NEW HEADQUARTERS!
Woo hoo!!! When we started For 3 Sisters six years ago, we were working out of 10x10 home office. Now we have a beautiful space to call home that we can share with you and the community! Over the next several days, I'll be writing about our adventure and everyone who made it possible, so make sure you come back and share in the journey!
Here's our official press release!
For 3 Sisters Open Headquarters in Montgomery County
to Advance National Cancer Resources Program
Maryland Executives Contribute to Office Opening
Olney, MD, July 11, 2017 – For 3 Sisters, a national grassroots organization with a mission to raise awareness and improve the quality of life for men and women affected by breast cancer, today announced the organization will commemorate the opening of its headquarters in Olney, Maryland with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 27, 2017. The opening of the For 3 Sisters office is a milestone for the organization that addresses the financial and emotional challenges faced by breast cancer fighters and survivors.
According to a March 2014 report from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers, four years after being treated, 1 in 4 breast cancer survivors say they are worse off financially.
“After losing three sisters to breast cancer, we discovered that the process by which breast cancer fighters and survivors asked for and received resource support, was fundamentally flawed,” said co-founder Marshall Moneymaker. “Recognizing that a breast cancer patient’s physical health, treatment status, education and literacy level, income, and access to the internet were potential impediments to successfully securing financial support, we eliminated the weakest link in the process—the patient burden—and instead created a new pathway to success.”
The new offices will be staffed by founders Marshall Moneymaker and his wife Shannon Moneymaker, and the volunteers who are dedicated to providing the same compassionate care that has made For 3 Sisters one of the nation's leading organizations for integrative resource case management in the cancer community. “In the last three years, nearly 100 women have received products, services, and financial aid valued at more than $200,000 as a direct result of our Road to Resources program,” said co-founder, Shannon Moneymaker. “We’re excited that our new headquarters affords us the opportunity to grow the scope and capacity of our program so that we can serve more men and women affected by breast cancer.”
The 1,500-square-foot office space, furniture, equipment, and décor came together through the generosity of local businesses through in-kind donations. For 3 Sisters would like to thank the following companies that have made this new headquarters a reality:
“It's hard to find someone who hasn't been touched by breast cancer, and our family is no different. It's important for us to try to help mitigate the devastating effects of cancer on sufferers, survivors, and their families, and donating to For 3 Sisters does just that,” said Danielle Dart, Owner of Dart Homes. “We are proud to contribute in any way that we can to help continue the admirable work For 3 Sister's does both within our community and nationally.”
John Moyer of Moyer & Sons Moving and Storage adds, “as someone who's lost a close family member to cancer, and have had a few who's beat it, I was personally moved by Marshall's story and what he and Shannon have been doing with For 3 Sisters. I knew that Moyer & Sons wanted to be a part of it. We look forward to lending a hand wherever we can in the future.”
About For 3 Sisters
For 3 Sisters is a national grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness and improving the lives of men and women affected by breast cancer. It was founded by retired firefighter, Marshall Moneymaker and his wife Shannon after he lost three older sisters to breast cancer. For 3 Sisters is committed to supporting breast cancer fighters and survivors in any way possible so no man or woman fights breast cancer alone. For more, visit www.F3S.org.
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.
OUR PROGRAM & CORPORATE SPONSORS