In working closely with cancer survivors, we are reminded of life’s fragile and fleeting nature.
A typical day at Cancer for College is pretty familiar with the steady hum of any office — phone calls, emails, meetings. But every so often the ordinary details are halted, and we are reminded instantly of how truly precious is the world around us. One such email we received last week, from Dan Weishar, a 20-year-old college student.
“You may recognize my brother’s name, Andrew Weishar, because he was a recipient of the Cancer for College scholarship in 2011,” writes Dan. “Unfortunately, upon receipt of the award, Andrew quickly learned that his cancer recurred and he was unable to return to school. After an incredibly inspirational battle, Andrew passed on October 12, 2012. Andrew asked very little of any of us, however, before he passed, the one request he did have for my family and I was to pay forward the kindness and generosity that we received so much of during his battle. To honor his only request, I created the Andrew Weishar Foundation.”
With the mission to financially support families stricken with the burdens of cancer, Cancer for College is one of the foundation’s beneficiaries, starting with a $1,000 donation to our fund.
We were all extremely moved by this news, and awestruck that Andrew’s last request was simply to pay it forward. What a testament to the strength and character of this young man and his family. Please take a moment to read more about Andrew, his battle with colon cancer, and the foundation created to honor his legacy at www.weish4ever.org.
As mentioned before on this blog, most survivors express a strong desire to give back. “I have come to terms with how much has changed for me,” says survivor Annika Dybevik. “I truly believe this horrible thing happened because I was meant to do something different with my life.”
Many become active in volunteer work. Some switch change career paths mid-stream. Others are moved to launch their own foundations, and work hard to keep those organizations active in addition to their college course load. Following are some of the foundations created by our 2013 scholarship recipients.
Hope in a Blanket founded by Annika Dybevik
Annika shares that one of her passions is raising money for cancer research and support, and has remained active doing so for the American Cancer Society and Northwest Sarcoma Foundation.
“I also found I wanted to stay connected on a personal level with kids going through cancer,” she continues, “so a friend and I started a non-profit called Hope in a Blanket.” Annika’s group provides fleece blankets for sarcoma patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The blankets are cheerful, vivid and loud. They instantly brighten the mood of a child in treatment. These blankets are a small thing in a long journey for kids with cancer, but they are like warm hugs and important reminders that other kids think of them and care.”
Annika, diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 13, is now a freshman at Cal Lutheran, where she is studying Theater Arts. Hope in a Blanket is still going strong, and Annika plans to deliver blankets when she is home on break this winter.
Kaely’s Kindness founded by Kaely Kwitek
Kaely established her organization in 2012, with the mission to help teen girls with cancer with their unique emotional, physical and practical needs. Kaely’s Kindness also provides an opportunity for girls — all with the shared struggle of being a teenage cancer patient — to meet up and relate to each other.
“I am thrilled to report that Kaely’s Kindness continues to help teen girls with cancer,” Kaely writes from the University of Albany. “Currently we are assisting 16 girls and their families. Events include monthly dinners, spa days and functions which assist them with their social and emotional needs. When I am home for breaks I meet with the girls and we continue doing the work we are doing.”
At 16 years old, Kaely was diagnosed with stage 4 anaplastic large cell lymphoma. “My goal and plan for a business degree (and eventual MBA) is so that I can manage this organization and ensure its sustainability.” Click here to learn more about Kaely’s Kindness.
The Kendra Steinmetz Foundation founded by Kendra Steinmetz
This UCLA freshman is cancer-free after being diagnosed at age 13 with Hepatoblastoma, an uncommon liver cancer. Kendra was moved to create her foundation after her dear friend, Jarren, lost his battle with Hepatoblastoma at just four years old. “Jarren inspired me to always strive to do the best that I can do in everything. He taught me that you can never stop fighting or trying hard for what you want. Sometimes you may fall, but you must always get back up and keep fighting…. I don’t want to see kids like him suffer any longer and I want to make a change in the world by helping to find a cure for cancer.”
Kendra’s foundation, raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer research, the most underfunded of all cancer research groups.
Cuck Fancer. founded by Ben Teller
Ben is a longtime friend of Cancer for College, and scholarship recipient in 2010 and 2011. Ben is a three-time cancer survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — he was diagnosed at 18, 21 and 22.
During his first bout with Hodgkin’s, he launched Cuck Fancer. with the mission dedicated to raising awareness by helping young adult cancer survivors get their feet back on the ground.
Cuck Fancer. will contribute anything necessary so young adult survivors can get their feet back on the ground: Rent, tuition, school supplies, car payments or medical bills. Cuck Fancer. strives to eliminate obstacles in any way possible so young adult cancer survivors can move forward in their lives with a sense of purpose. Find more details on Ben and his mission by clicking here.
We especially honor these young cancer survivors who embody the spirit of giving throughout the year. Happy Holidays to you and your families from all of us here at Cancer for College.