This morning on KSEE Sunrise, Faith Sidlow talked with the West family who have just returned from an all expense paid vacation to Hawaii. They were the recipients of this special gift thanks to the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.
A few months ago Cyndee West saw a story on the NBC Today Show about the Jack and Jill Foundation and how the organization sent families on special vacations who were dealing with late stage terminal cancer. In November of 2008, Cyndee's husband, Tom, was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, and he has been battling the cancer ever since. Their two children, Alexandra, 9, and Ethan, 6, have dealt with their father's cancer and treatment for almost as long as they can remember. Tom is a dean at Reedley College has been able to work when he feels well. Unfortunately, traditional chemotherapy is no longer working for him. He is now in a clinical trial at USC with the cancer spreading to his lungs, liver, bones, and abdomen.
As soon as Cyndee saw the Today Show episode on the Jack and Jill Foundation she immediately applied for a trip for her family with the help of her husband’s oncologist, Dr. Michael Moffett and Cancer Care of Fresno. The Jack and Jill Foundation helps give a WOW experience to children with a parent with late stage cancer. They are similar to Make-a-Wish but for adults with late stage cancer who have young children. You can learn more about them at their website www.jajf.org
Cyndee says she, her husband and her children continually keep pinching themselves because of this dream come true. When Tom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer she says it felt like a nightmare that they couldn't’t wake-up from. They have just returned from their trip and stopped by KSEE Sunrise to share the experience, for which they say they are forever grateful. Cyndee says they are so thankful for the Jack and Jill Foundation and she wanted more people to know about the generosity and kindness of this organization and what they are doing for a local family!
From the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation website:
The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is a national resource providing WOW! Experiences for children and families who have a Mom or Dad with late stage, limited life expectancy cancer.
The Foundation was inspired by Jill and Jon Albert’s real life story. With years of executive experience in the corporate world, Jon found himself, his wife, Jill, and their two young children, Jake and Jamie, facing Jill’s Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Jill and Jon realized early on in Jill’s fight the disease was not just attacking her body, but it was affecting their entire family. Jon took his marketing and operations expertise and combined it with their drive to formulate something positive and meaningful out of the unfair and cruel. The Alberts knew that for their kids, strong memories of special times together would be their greatest inheritance. From this notion and inspiration, the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation was born.
Sadly, the Albert’s story is one we hear too often. As the American Cancer Society estimates, more than 500,000 Moms and Dads in their 20's, 30's, and 40's with late stage cancer will die each year, despite the advances in research. These parents are leaving behind grieving children. As the national Oncology community admits, cancer is a diagnosis attacking the entire family. It shatters promises, dreams, hopes and aspirations. By creating WOW! Experiences for families across the country, the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is able to provide important timeouts from cancer to create positive, healing, lasting memories together as a family… while they can.
As Jill Albert (1961- 2006) said just weeks before she passed away: "The children need a break... they just need a break... and so do the parents. This Foundation needs to continue. It must."
The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is now a lasting legacy to Jill's spirit, kindness and generosity to others.