Archive for camps, retreats & wishes

Wish Fulfillment Organizations for People With Cancer



Some wishes can come true.  Just ask anyone who has worked with one of the organizations listed below as they work to make wishes come true for people with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.  Some work specifically to grant wishes of children; others with adults; and still others for families who have a parent battling cancer.  The various organizations have differing eligibility requirements and limitations regarding the types of wishes they grant.  Each organizaion is amazing in their own way.

Please note:  To find out more information on getting a wish granted, please contact each organization directly.  If you know of other organizations that offer wish fulfillment, please email me at and I’ll post their information.


3 Little Birds 4 Life  This nonprofit grants wishes to young adults with cancer ages 18-40.  Wishes that include travel are restricted within the continental United States.

Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation  Best known for offering parents temporary housing near the hospitals where their children are being treated, this foundation also provides funding for various adventures for children with advanced diseases.

Children’s Wish Foundation International  This Atlanta-based nonprofit grants wishes to children with advanced illness, including advanced cancer, who are younger than 18 years old. Children who are “too young to make a wish that is truly their own” can participate in the organization’s Young Minds program, which provides children younger than three years old with an assortment of gifts to entertain and provide comfort.

The Clayton Dabney Foundation for Kids with Cancer  Through the Medicine of the Heart program, this foundation anonymously grants wishes to children with advanced cancer who come from financially needy families. A health care provider, such as a doctor or nurse, must nominate the child.

Compassion Partners  This Disney program provides children and adults free passes to several theme parks in Florida, including Disney theme parks, Sea World, Universal Studios Orlando, and Busch Gardens. Passes are available by calling 407-396-6065 or 407-828-2298.

Deliver the Dream  This organization provides families living with an advanced illness whether the illness involves a child or a parent the chance to relax, enjoy time together, and forge bonds with others during a three-day retreat. Health care providers or one of Deliver the Dream’s partnering organizations are responsible for recruiting the family for participation.

The Dream Factory  The Dream Factory grants wishes to critically and chronically ill children who are between three and 18 years old. Parents, guardians, physicians, other caregivers, and children with advanced diseases can make referrals to begin the wish-granting process.

Dream Foundation  The Dream Foundation fulfills the wishes of adults suffering from advanced illnesses. The foundation seeks to help adults find peace and closure with the realization of a final wish. Dream Foundation grants requests to adults older than 18 years old whose life expectancy, confirmed by their physicians, is one year or less. They must also confirm that they have limited resources.

Give Kids the World  The Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre resort in Central Florida that offers accommodation, entertainment, and other attractions for children with life-threatening illnesses. The charity provides children between the ages of three and 18 and their families free, one-week vacations to help create long-lasting memories. A child must be sponsored by one of more than 250 wish-granting organizations in the country or a children’s hospital affiliated with Give Kids the World.

Granted Wish Foundation  The Granted Wish Foundation fulfills wishes for “disabled, disadvantaged, and deserving individuals and families” and works with people of all ages. In addition, the foundation has a special program that provides luxury air transportation for children with advanced illness and their families to travel to receive life-saving treatment.

Hope Kids  This charity hosts regular events and activities (a “never-ending” wish) that help restore hope for the future. Hope Kids also provides a support community for children with advanced illnesses and their families.

The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation The J&J 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.

Jason’s Dream for Kids  Jason’s Dreams for Kids grants wishes to children diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative, or malignant condition. The organization relies on medical professionals and parents for referrals and determines medical eligibility with the help of the treating physician.

Kids Wish Network  The Kids Wish Network grants wishes for children who are between three and18 years old. The organization’s “Our Hero” program also provides wishes for children who have overcome life-altering circumstances and endured great pain and suffering. Anyone can refer a child, including a family member, friend, nurse, doctor, or social worker.

Make-a-Wish Foundation  The nation’s largest wish-granting organization, Make-a-Wish fulfills the wishes of children between two and a half and 18 years old with life-threatening medical conditions, aiming to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.” The organization accepts referrals from health care professionals and parents, and children can even nominate themselves. After evaluating medical eligibility, a team of volunteers meets with the child to help identify the child’s “true wish.”

Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation  Making Memories grants wishes for patients with metastatic breast cancer, while raising awareness about the disease. People with advanced breast cancer or their friends and family members can submit wish requests.

The Marty Lyons Foundation Founded by professional football player Marty Lyons after serving as a surrogate father of a three-year-old boy with a life-threatening illness, the foundation helps grant wishes for children with advanced illnesses.

Memories of Love  This organization provides children who have parents with advanced illness with a chance to form long-lasting memories by going on vacation with their entire family. Families are sent on a five-day, all-expense-paid vacation to Orlando, Florida. A physician, health care provider, or care organization must identify and nominate a parent who has an advanced illness.

Never Too Late  This organization helps make wishes and dreams come true for people age 65 and older with advanced illness, aiming to honor the lives they have lived. The organization requests some financial support from family members to fulfill wish requests.

Nicki Leach Foundation  This foundation provides financial assistance to teenagers and adults between 16 and 25 years old who have advanced cancer. The foundation’s clients often use this assistance to pay for specific needs or activities that they may not be able to afford, such as clothing, college, a cell phone, or bills. The applicant’s oncologist must confirm diagnosis.

Operation Liftoff  Operation Liftoff provides children with advanced illness three types of trips: “dream trips” for children and their families, “care trips” for medical treatment in other regions, and “group trips” to help teenagers with advanced illnesses leave the hospital and bond with peers. Parents and caregivers complete a form to request a trip.

The Rainbow Connection  This organization helps grant wishes to children from Michigan facing an advanced illness. To qualify, children must be between two and a half and 18 years old, live in Michigan, be diagnosed with an advanced illness, and have the diagnosis verified by a physician. In addition, they must not have received a wish fulfillment from any other organization. Medical professionals, parents or guardians, and children may submit wish requests.

Second Wind Dreams  This international fulfillment organization works to enhance the life of those living in elder care communities such as nursing, assisted living, and hospice facilities by granting wishes. The organization grants relationship-based dreams, needs-based dreams, lifelong dreams, and “I don’t want to grow up” dreams, among others.

A Special Wish Foundation  This foundation grants wishes for infants, children, and young adults younger than 21 years old who have been diagnosed with an advanced illness. Wishes fall into three categories, including “a special gift,” “a special place,” or “a special hero.”

Starlight Foundation  This foundation provides entertainment, education and family activities for seriously ill children and their families. Starlight Wishes provide a dream-come-true experience to seriously ill or injured children ages 4 to 18.

Sunshine Foundation  This foundation is committed to fulfilling the dreams of children three to 18 years old who have advanced cancer or special needs and those who have faced abuse.

United Special Sportsman Alliance  This wish-granting organization specializes in providing children and adults with disabilities or advanced illness an outdoor adventure of their dreams. Trips include hunting, fishing, water sports, and other activities.

The Warrior’s Wish Foundation  This charity grants wishes for U.S. military veterans with advanced illness and their families. Gifts range from hearing aids and scooter chairs to family vacations and trips to attend reunions. The application requires a current photograph, a description of the wish, and an explanation of why it’s meaningful.

Wishing Star  This charity grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses who are between three and 21 years old and live in Eastern and Central Washington and Idaho. Children do not have to be terminally ill to qualify.

Wish Upon A Star  This  non profit, law enforcement effort is designed to grant the wishes of children ages 3-18 years old living in California who are afflicted with high-risk and life-threatening illnesses.

Wishing Well Foundation USA  This New Orleans-based organization is committed to granting wishes for children with advanced illness. Children younger than 18 years old are eligible to apply.


(Source:  Resources listed above were found on Cancer.netDuke Cancer CenterPatient Resource & Stupid Cancer)


Camps for Kids & Families Touched by Cancer


Attending one of the many camps created specifically for anyone touched by cancer can be a wonderful way to connect with others who share similar experiences.  While some camps are just for children (or young adults) who have been diagnosed with cancer or have survived a diagnosis of cancer; others are for their siblings; and still others are designed for the entire family to attend.  There are even camps for children who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer.  Creating new friendships, sharing adventures, mastering new skills or simply taking a break from cancer are a few of many benefits these camps can offer.

To find a camp that fits your specific needs, check out these incredible resources that list many different cancer camps.  Most camps have oncology doctors and nurses on staff to  provide medical care to campers when necessary.  Additionally, many of these camps are offered FREE of charge to participants.

Ped-Onc Resource Center which lists camps by state coupled with a short description of each camp.

Cancer.Net also provides a listing of different camp and retreat options for kids and families touched by cancer.

Allen’s Guide offers a listing a camps that specialize in oncology.

Also talk to your oncology nurse or social worker.  They may be able to suggest additional camps and/or retreats that may be beneficial for you.

If you’ve been to a camp that you loved, please comment below.  Knowledge is power… let’s share the power...

Stowe Weekend of Hope Cancer Retreat

Cancer survivors & their families are invited to the 12th Annual Stowe Weekend of Hope from May 3-May 5, 2013.


The Stowe Weekend of Hope offers a healthy, inspirational retreat weekend for cancer survivors (of any type of cancer) & their families.  Free services include: lodging for 1st time attendees (discounted lodging for returning participants); educational workshops; wellness & creativity sessions; intensive workshops by cancer type; and lots more… plus the beautiful & scenic Vermont mountains.  A detailed schedule of events, activities and sessions will be available soon on their website.


If you’ve been to a Stowe Weekend of Hope in the past, we’d love to hear about your trip…  Knowledge is power… please share the power! xo

FREE Beach Retreats for Breast Cancer Survivors & Their Families


Little Pink Houses of Hope provides FREE week long retreats for breast cancer survivors and their families in various beach locations around the country.  At these beach retreats, patients and their families are given time to relax, recover and reconnect with one another as well as meet and bond with other families touched by breast cancer.  Sounds A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  


Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…

Approximately 7-10 families touched by breast cancer attend each retreat.  Each family is given their own private beach house FREE of charge for one whole week.  All meals & all activities are also provided free of charge.  The family only pays for their travel expenses related to getting to & from the retreat.


Little Pink Houses of Hope takes care of every single detail so you don’t have to.  Each house is stocked with breakfast food and drinks.  Lunches and dinners are prepared by Little Pink Houses of Hope volunteers and are served in a common dining area with the other families on the retreat.  Local merchants donate various services and activities like fishing expeditions, parasailing, yoga, arts & crafts, etc.  FREE babysitting is also included so parents can have a date night if they choose.  Families can spend time as much relaxing together as they want; they also can spend time with other families who are battling or have battled breast cancer.  Participation in any planned activity is optional.


Applications for the 2013 season will open on January 1st.  This year, beach retreats will be held in Carolina Beach, NC; Bethany Beach, DE; Key West, FL; and Galveston, TX to name just a few.  For a complete list of retreat locations, visit  More locations are being added for the 2013 season so check back regularly.


To apply, patients must submit an application form online, have medical clearance from their oncology health care team and meet the following conditions:

  • be ambulatory;
  • be at least 18 years of age;
  • and currently be a patient of a licensed physician who has undergone treatment for breast cancer within the past 12 months.

Applicants who are currently undergoing treatment are given top priority.  For more information, visit or call (336) 213-4733.

Creating Everlasting Memories for Kids Who Will Lose a Parent to Cancer

Image credit: 123RF Stock Pho


Sadly & horribly (understatements of the century), there are times when the chemo doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do or when a cancer is found too late and there is little hope of a cure.  In such instances, the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation helps send families on dream vacations to help take their minds off their troubles and create lasting family memories.  Vacations can include many things such as walking down the Red Carpet at the Emmys to meet & greet with celebrities; going to Disney World, Six Flags, Sea World or on a cruise; meeting a favorite football team; etc.


With that said, Jack & Jill focuses on children who have a parent dying of cancer.  Families in need must be referred to the Foundation by their treating oncologist as well as:

  • Have late stage limited life expectancy cancer;
  • Have at least one (1) child age between the ages of three (3) and eighteen (18) – Only one child must meet the minimum age requirement;
  • Have a life expectancy more than two (2) months
  • Have not participated in an any adult dream, wish or any other similar program

For more information on these programs, click HERE or contact Heidi Cohen at 678-523-1001.  What an incredible program the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is has created for families.  Cancer can rob you of your loved one, but it can not steal your memories of them.



What Does Swimming with Sharks & Cancer Have in Common?

Image credit: ayerst / 123RF Stock Photo Lemon Shark in Bahamas

One of Alan’s very favorite things to do was to scuba dive.  He loved marine life.  In Tahiti, he swam next to with an 11 foot lemon shark and LOVED it.  So needless to say when I heard about Fin Forward, I got pretty excited.

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… Fin Forward specializes in shark dives and marine encounters for cancer survivors.  I call this “Adventure Therapy’.  Fin Forward partners with local dive groups to give cancer survivors a therapeutic adventure- although shark dives are their primary focus, they will also arrange dives with whales, dolphins, sting rays & other marine life.  S.C.U.B.A. certification is not required for most trips, and Fin Forward can accommodate most levels of physical fitness, aquatic experience and comfort with sharks.


In addition to being one of the most common “bucket list” items, the folks from Fin Forward believe that shark diving can have therapeutic benefits and act as a catalyst for change.  They hope these dives will create milestone moments that fundamentally change individuals and illustrate the powers of personal perseverance and the human spirit.


BTW, I was just watching The Big C, one of my very favorite shows, and in this episode, Cathy, a stage 4 melanoma survivor, went scuba diving.  Is that a coincidence or kismet????

Kick Cancer Overboard…


Imagine this…  A cruise ship filled with cancer fighters and survivors, their friends, family and supporters – all together celebrating life in a place where those touched by cancer can take a break for a few days… where the most important question is not how to pay for the next medical bill, but whether to play bingo, get a massage or sing karaoke.  Sounds nice, right?  

Check out Kick Cancer Overboard….

Founder & travel agency owner Ted Friedli was frustrated (understatement of the century) as he watched otherwise healthy friends & family succumb to cancer.  As a way to  bring a little happiness & sunshine in people’s lives, he created “Kick Cancer Overboard“.  Their mission is to provide FREE cruises to people that been touched by cancer.


Kick Cancer Overboard‘s next cruise sets sail on May 19, 2012 to Bermuda.  Space is limited.  Contact Kick Cancer Overboard for more information on how to apply for financial assistance.

Take Me Away…. Check out Cancer Retreats

“Calgone… Take Me Away….”


“Calgone, take me away!”  Remember those “old” Calgone bubble bath commercials where taking a Calgone bubble bath could whisk you away from all your problems….  aahhh…. if only life were that simple.


Back to reality….  although taking a bubble bath can help relax your mind & body (especially if you add epsom salts or Dead Sea salts), there are many amazing organizations offering FREE or low-cost retreats for anyone touched by cancer that can help too.  At these retreats, you can relax, meet other cancer patients & survivors & learn more about healthy lifestyles.


Check out this list of FREE or low-cost retreats from The Gathering Place, an amazing organization that provides many FREE programs & support to individuals and families touched by cancer.  Retreats range from a weekend away to one week or longer and are located throughout the country.

Some are cancer-type specific like Casting for Recovery - a free weekend retreat for women with breast cancer where learning coping skills & making new friends while learning how to fly fish is the focus.  Others like Stowe Weekend of Hope (12th annual retreat is set for May 4-6, 2011) in Stowe, VT offers a healthy, inspirational weekend retreat for cancer survivors AND their families.  For more information on these retreats, as well as many others, visit The Gathering Place’s website.


p.s.  The Gathering Place has loads of helpful information on their website for anyone navigating a cancer journey.  Check them out.  I wish I had known about this resource while we were battling Alan’s cancer.

Doorway to New Opportunities for Women

If you’re both a woman and a cancer survivor (of any type), check out Pink Door, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping female cancer survivors find jobs, go to college & realize their dreams after cancer.

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…

Pink Door can help women cancer survivors in 3 ways:

1.  My Pink Wish! Assistance Program enables women cancer survivors to request any “wish” to come true either during or after cancer.  One survivor’s wish will be granted each year.

2.  Women in Pink Scholarship Program awards scholarships to single, divorced or widowed women cancer survivors to attend a nationally accredited college or university within the US.  This year they will award one $2500 scholarship.  Applications are due by November 15, 2011 and will be awarded for the 2012 school year.

3.  Women’s Cancer Resource Center provides information on job links & careers, healthy living & nutrition, national & local cancer support groups, a doctor’s blog for the latest in medical information on cancer as well as Survivor’s Speak, a blog for women cancer patients & survivors who have received help from Pink Door.

Pink Door is a GREAT resource for all women touched by cancer.  Check them out….



Resources for Young Adults with Cancer

I love this!

There’s a whole slew of organizations that were specifically created to help young adults with cancer (both patients & survivors).  Young adults are between the ages of 15-40.  They are too old to be treated like children & too young to be all-grown up.  Here are just a few that I’ve learned about so far…

Planet Cancer is “where young adults can share insights, explore fears, laugh & even give the finger to cancer with others” (that’s a direct quote from their site BTW) whose lives have been impacted by cancer.  This site has tons a great information & advice and it makes me laugh. I love their edgy approach to sharing information.
I also LOVE their TIPS & RESOURCES sections… there’s some really helpful info like Cancer & Fertility: What Every Guy (or Gal) Should Know and Why Healthcare Reform Will Affect Cancer Patients.

The i[2]y I’m Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation provides “a place for young adults to find resources on legal issues, insurance barriers, fertility issues, body image, wellness, and relationships”. Their website is & they are awesome!  They have a weekly radio show called the Stupid Cancer Showthat airs live every Monday @ 8pm. Check it out!  And they have great edgy shirts & stuff for purchase too.  Isn’t the CancerBird great?!?!

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults 
strives to ensure that all young adults & families impacted by cancer have a voice & the resources necessary to thrive.  They offer patient navigation services & peer-to-peer support groups as well as resource & financial assistance as well as college scholarships.  They have a great, free, interactive Treatment Option Tool that helps patients learn about treatment options, possible side effects, questions to ask doctors, & more.


Fertile Hope provides reproductive info, support & hope to cancer patients & survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.  They even offer financial assistance for sperm banking, egg & embryo freezing & adoption.


Camps & Retreats offer another avenue for anyone touched by cancer to do something “normal”, have fun & meet others who totally get it.  There’s a great list of different camps & retreats available by state & age group on My cousin went to First Descents, an outdoor adventure camp for young adults with cancer, and he said it was one of the best things he ever did!


SurvivorAlert offers lots of great info, links to resources & recommendations for action for young adult cancer survivors & health professionals.  Check out their Sweet Sites section which lists tons of amazing resources.


Check back next week for an upcoming post about $$$$ for College… there are lots of amazing college & graduate school scholarship opportunities for anyone affected by cancer.


If you are a young adult with cancer or know of a young adult with cancer & you know of additional resources that are helpful or have a comment on the ones I’ve listed above, please post the info.  Knowledge is Power… Share the Power… please!