WOW! Programs have sent families on behind-the-scenes tours and visits at recording studios or live movie sets. Families have spent time with CEOs, mayors, and governors; enjoyed picnic outings in classic cars, cruises on private yachts, and rides on private planes. The families have stayed at dude ranches and elegant resorts, enjoyed going to concerts, the Grammys, the Oscars, American Idol, and the X-Games. They have attended professional and college sports games, and enjoyed cruises, theme parks, and attractions. The families have even had private tours of the White House. Throughout their special times, the families are treated like the VIPs the Jack & Jill Foundation believes they are.2

This organization is attentive to the whole family, especially those families with children younger than 18 years whose parent has a late-stage cancer and a limited life expectancy. Even though the children are not the ones afflicted, their worlds are filled with stress and turmoil because of their parent’s disease. These children are coping with the knowledge that their lives will never be the same. Thus, JAJF provides the whole family a chance to spend quality time together in the face of these uncertainties and hardships. To be eligible, all candidates must

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  • Be referred directly by their treating oncologist;

  • Have late-stage, limited life expectancy cancer;

  • Have a life expectancy of more than 2 months;

  • Have at least one child between age 3 and 18 years;

  • Have not participated in any other adult dream, wish, or similar program.

A coalition of 191 oncology hospitals and centers in 44 states refer eligible patients to the JAJF program, which only accepts referrals from oncologists. Based on the criteria established by the JAJF’s medical advisors, eligible patients are offered the chance to become recipients of their WOW! program. Oncologists give their blessings to the families by prescribing the program as part of the patient’s treatment protocol.


Many other wish-granting organizations for children with cancer as well as other programs for adult patients offer similar services. We will feature them in future columns, and welcome recommendations from readers. ONA

Bette Weinstein Kaplan is a medical writer based in Tenafly, New Jersey.


1. The Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING With Breast Cancer. Accessed January 28, 2013.

2. The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. Accessed January 28, 2013.