Sometimes the best thing you can do for your patient with cancer is to tell her or him to go away … on a vacation, that is. Patients should be encouraged to take advantage of the vacation and day trip offers available for people with cancer from various organizations. These programs accomplish amazing things for the patients and families they help. Although there are quite a few of these organizations across the country, this column will focus on two of them.
FROM DINNER TO A VACATION
The Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer This foundation began in 2007 in honor and memory of Karen Wellington, whose breast cancer was diagnosed at age 30 years.1 The mother of two young children, she chose to spend her last years living life to the fullest, and enjoyed another unexpected 10 years with her family, often in vacation homes donated by their friends. After her death in 2007, Wellington’s family and friends established the foundation to carry on her legacy and honor other women and families living with breast cancer.1
The foundation assures that patients with breast cancer go on vacations, relax at a day spa, and enjoy meals or nights out on the town. The philosophy of the Karen Wellington Foundation is they know there is a cure out there somewhere; but in the meantime, the foundation gives women something fun to which they can look forward. That is no easy accomplishment, since patients often have calendars filled with doctors’ appointments, chemotherapy treatments, and surgeries. The work of the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer is in the name; it strives to remind patients and their families that taking time to really appreciate living is important.1
This program offers hope and relaxation for patients whose lives are consumed with battling their disease. The goal is to get women with breast cancer back on their feet and reconnected with their families so they can go ahead and live life to the fullest, as Karen Wellington did. Patients with breast cancer can be nominated for a vacation or day-spa package via the form on the foundation’s Web site by friends or relatives. The foundation accepts donations of vacation homes, condominiums, and time shares that can be offered to breast cancer patients. They also ask salon owners to donate their business’ services so patients can enjoy manicures, pedicures, massages, or a full day of spa treatments when a long vacation stay is not practical. Once the donation is made, the Karen Wellington Foundation coordinates all the arrangements for a deserving patient with breast cancer and her family.
TREATING FAMILIES, NOT CANCER
The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation (JAJF) Another brave woman’s fight with terminal breast cancer led her and her husband to found the JAJF prior to her death.
The family unit is the heart of the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the organization helps families across the country escape their stressful days and heartache while creating lasting memories through vacations and other shared experiences, which they call WOW! experiences.2 These shared family times might be much-needed vacations, tickets to sporting events and musical performances, VIP tours, privileged guest appearances, even meeting celebrities.