Archive for making life a little easier

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)


10 Reasons Why I’m a Fan of The Cancer Treatment Centers of America


For years I’ve seen television commercials for The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)But are they really as good as they appear to be?  I’ve visited their Arizona facility twice and I have to say, I think they might be that good. If nothing else, I’m impressed with the way they attack cancer (and I don’t get impressed easily ;-))…


Below are 10 reasons (listed in no particular order) of why I’m a huge fan:

1.  Practice personalized medicine.  CTCA treats each cancer as unique and tailor a treatment protocol to match each person’s unique needs and diagnosis.  CTCA will run genetic and biomarker testing on tumors.  They will even prescribe off-label drug treatments (drugs that are not part of the standard protocol) if the standard of care is not doing the job. They also take a proactive approach to treating side effects caused by cancer treatments.


2.  Integrative team approach.  Every patient at CTCA gets a team of at least 5 professionals assigned to care for them including a medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic clinician and nurse care manager.  Of course, surgical specialists, radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, etc. will also become part of the team if their areas of expertise are required.  And get this, they all talk to each other and create a joint plan of action together.  They work together to treat the entire person before treatment begins, during treatment and even after treatment ends.   CTCA also employs licensed acupuncturists and massage therapists to help patients manage the side effects of treatment.


3.  100% focused on cancer.  Need I say more?! BTW, approximately 65% of the people being treated at CTCA have advanced or complex cancers. They are used to tough cases.  And they don’t give up.


4.  Make having cancer a little less stressful.  Schlepping from one doctor to the next; coordinating care and communications between different doctors and different hospitals; tracking down records, getting prescriptions, battling with insurance, etc. is downright exhausting.  At CTCA, they do all this for you.  You show up to your appointment and your team of doctors come to you.  


5.  Latest & greatest equipment.  CTCA offers cutting edge, treatment options and state-of-the-art technology like Cyberknife, TomoTherapy®, Cord Blood Transplants, Calypso® 4D Localization System™/GPS for the Body®, Tuning Fork, genetic & molecular profiling & much more.


6.  Nutritious & delicious food.  If you’ve ever eaten hospital food, you know how much it sucks.  Sorry, but it does.  The food they serve at their facilities is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  It’s all freshly prepared, made from organic ingredients whenever possible and inexpensive (I swear).   Each facility has it’s own smoothie bar and serves Starbucks coffee (seriously).  The Arizona facility even has it’s own organic farm.


7.  Works with many insurance companies.  CTCA works with many different insurances (typically not medicare or medicaid though).  All costs are pre-determined so there will be no surprise charges.  Acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic and other mind-body work are included, even if these services are not covered by your insurance carrier.


9.  Incredible amenities.  On-site pharmacy; on-site boutique specializing in wigs, head shavings, head coverings & mastectomy products- all sold at 30% below retail; on-the-premises spa; 24X7 visiting hours; really nice private hospital rooms that are ICU-capable with nearby subsidized hotel rooms for approximately $40 a night; massage & pampering for caregivers; only green products are used to clean the center; all medical records & results are 100% digital; really nice infusion bays; pet therapy dogs, free laundry services; the list goes on and on.  They even throw parties to celebrate different milestones throughout this journey.


10.  Survivorship programs.  Once active treatment is complete, CTCA Survivorship Program lends support to survivors as they get back into the swing of things.


THE BOTTOMLINE:  CTCA treats every patient as a person, not a number.  They take personalized cancer care to a new level…  They offer realistic hope to their patients.  I wish we had looked into receiving treatment there for Alan.

FREE Meals & Groceries for Cancer Patients Living in MD, DC & VA


If you live in MD, DC or VA, check out Food & Friends- they provide FREE, nutritious meals and groceries as well as nutrition counseling to people living with a life-challenging illness (HIV, cancer, etc).


Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  To become eligible for services from Food & Friends, cancer patients must meet the following criteria:

  • Patients must have active cancer;
  • Their nutritional status is compromised because of inadequate food intake due to chewing/swallowing difficulties, lack of appetite, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, or inability to prepare or procure food;
  • Patients are currently managing side effects & conditions from chemo, radiation or palliative therapy.

There are no requirements for income or insurance coverage.  And all services are provided at no cost to recipients.


Food & Friends Home-Delivered Meals will deliver 3 nutritious meals a day, up to 6 days a week to patients & their families who live in Maryland (as far north as Hagerstown), Virginia (as far south as Fredericksburg) & Washington, DC.  They offer 11 different nutritional plans to choose from.


Food & Friends’ Groceries-to-Go Service is available for those individuals and families who either live outside their freshly-prepared meals delivery area OR those clients who are healthy enough to prepare their own meals.  2 bags of non-perishable groceries plus frozen soups and entrees (prepared by Food & Friends Chefs) can be delivered either weekly or every other week.


Food & Friends’ Nutrition Counseling & Education can provide individualized nutrition counseling, cooking classes, bimonthly workshops on nutrition and other wellness-related topics such as stress management, & much more.


For more information, please contact Food & Friends’ directly by clicking HERE.

FREE Home-Delivered Meals to Cancer Patients in LA

Project Angel Food prepares FREE nutritious meals for cancer patients living in Los Angeles Country.  With the help of professional chefs and volunteers, Project Angel Food delivers meals directly to a your home or to a nearby pick-up point.  Clients have the option of receiving either hot meals prepared daily or frozen meals that are delivered once a week.


Eligibility for meals is based on the inability to obtain food and/or prepare meals due to illness.  The application is a simple one-pager that requires your doctor’s signature.  Qualifying illnesses may include, but are not limited to cancer, HIV/AIDS, stroke, heart disease & kidney disease.  Again, the patient must live in Los Angeles Country.  Click HERE for Project Angel Food’s Eligibility/Consent Form.  Any questions about client eligibility, please contact  Client Services at (800) 761-8889 or (323) 845-1810.

Once a new client is approved for service, a call will be made to conduct an intake interview. A nutrition assessment, conducted by a Registered Dietitian, is part of the intake process. Special diets are available according to each person’s medical requirements.

iPhone App to Organize Your Medical History


Throughout our battle with cancer, we must have seen at least 2 dozen doctors specializing in different areas of care, and that doesn’t include all the residents or interns we were forced to speak with or the doctors we met during our unexpected emergency room visits. I felt like a broken record repeating the same information on Alan’s diagnosis & everything that went along with it (meds, supplements, timeline of events, surgeries, etc.) time after time after time. Candidly it was exhausting and as time went on and the amount information I had to share increased, my ability to accurately communicate these details was dwindling away.


ExpressWell is an iPhone app that organizes your critical medical info,

At-a-glance summary of your medical history

making it much easier to relay health history when seeing a new doctor or at an ER visit.  ExpressWell tracks the sort of information a doctor needs to know to treat you (like what medications & supplements you’re taking, any

conditions or allergies, & medical events or procedures you’ve had) plus it stores contact info for all your doctors.  You can store up to 10 different people’s information which is a great feature for families.  Plus, ExpressWell is 100% private and password protected.  Patient information is not retained or uploaded to any web site; it never leaves your mobile device. Patients control who sees their personal health information and when.  All you have to do is keep it current with up-to-date information.


To learn more about this app, visit or download it directly from the iTunes App Store.





FREE Home-Delivered Meals to Breast Cancer Patients Living in NJ & MA


To help ease the stress of daily living, CANCERcare, Cancer Support Community, Meals On Wheels & EISAI Women’s Oncology Program have joined forces to deliver FREE meals to breast cancer patients living in selected areas of New Jersey and Massachusetts.


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

This program, Magnolia Meals At Homedelivers FREE nutritious meals to patients living with breast cancer who live within a 20-25 miles radius of Woodcliff Lake, NJ & Andover, MA.  (This is a “test program” that is being piloted in this small geographical area with hopes of delivering over 40,000 meals to it’s participants.)

Breast cancer patients in these areas are eligible to enroll if they meet at least one of the following criteria*+:

  • Currently undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy
  • Underwent chemotherapy or radiation therapy in the last 3 months
  • Has been discharged from a hospital (admission was cancer related) in the last 3 months
  • Receiving adjuvant or neoadjuvant treatment

*This can include men or women diagnosed with breast cancer
+There are no requirements for financial need to participate in the program

Participants in the program will receive up to 6 monthly home meal deliveries, each of which will include up to 7 meals designed to meet the nutritional needs of people living with breast cancer, and up to 10 meals for family members.

If you think you or someone you know meets these program criteria, please contact Magnolia Meals At Home.  Currently this program is expected to run through March 31, 2013.

got Cancer? call LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Services


Navigating your way through a diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming, confusing and downright scary- and that’s a GROSS understatement.  To help cancer patients & their loved ones make sense of it all, some hospitals & private oncology practices now have “Oncology Navigators” on staff. Oncology Navigators literally help patients navigate their way through a diagnosis of cancer. They’re skilled in overcoming obstacles to treatment so patients can get the best care possible.


Sounds great, right?!  It is… but what if the hospital or doctor’s practice where you’re receiving treatment doesn’t offer the services of an Oncology Navigator?  Or what if you want to work with a different navigator than the one you’ve been assigned to?  Then what????


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

You can contact LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Services….

  • if you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and don’t know what to do next
  • if you’ve got questions related to medical insurance… or if you don’t have medical insurance
  • if you’re having difficulty paying for treatments, prescriptions & life in general because of a cancer diagnosis
  • if you’re feeling overwhelmed & scared and would like to speak with someone about your situation… LIVESTRONG can even help connect you with a survivor with your same diagnosis
  • if you need info on fertility preservation (sperm banking & egg harvesting) because cancer treatments do affect fertility
  • if you’re having challenges at work as a result of cancer treatments
  • if you’d like help finding a qualified 2nd opinion
  • if you want help weighing the pros & cons of different treatment options
  • if you’d like help searching for the “right” clinical trial
  • if you have any questions about living with and surviving cancer


Basically, if you need advice or help with ANYTHING related to cancer… Call LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Services.  Their services are free, confidential and open to anyone touched by cancer, regardless of age or type of cancer.  Each Navigator is bilingual and he or she will get to know you and help you every step of the way.  So whether you have cancer or are a loved one, friend, health care professional or caregiver to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Services can help… from initial diagnosis to life-after-cancer and everything in between.


To reach a LIVESTRONG Navigator:


(P.S.  If the LIVESTRONG Navigation Center had existed back when Alan was diagnosed with cancer, I have no doubt that my first call would have been to them.  Definitely!)



Good Nutrition Made Easy…

Oooooh… I LOVE rainbow swiss chard- nutritious & delicious!


For most people, the ability to consistently follow a healthy, well-balanced diet is no easy task.  This is especially true for cancer patients as chemotherapy and radiation often cause cancer patients to experience a lack of appetite, nausea, changes in taste and even difficulty swallowing.  Without proper nutrition, treatment-related-fatigue, lack of energy, significant weight loss, weakened immune system & depression can take over making the fight against cancer even more difficult.  Proper nutrition during cancer treatment is KEY.  (Good nutrition is also really important AFTER treatment is complete to aid in recurrence prevention.)


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

Although no study has proven that diet and nutrition alone can cure cancer, eating nutritious foods can strengthen your body and build up your immune system to be able to better withstand cancer treatments.  So if you’re not able to cook (or have friends prepare) nutritious meals or you are having a hard time finding foods that you can eat, check out Meals to Heal.  Their meals are specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of people with cancer.


Meals to Heal provides fresh meals, customized to your specific tastes & needs, that are both nutritious & delicious- and delivered right to your door.    Meals to Heal has Registered Oncology Dietitians on staff to answer any questions you may have; uses organic ingredients whenever possible; and has USDA Investigators on site to ensure food freshness.  All meals are based on a Mediterranean-style diet and prep is super easy… just heat & eat.


Orders can be placed for either 5 or 7 days worth of meals- each day consists of 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) plus two daily snacks.  The cost is $35 a day and this includes delivery.  Meals are delivered within 48 hours of ordering.  Gift certificates are also available.  Soon, Meals to Heal will be offering a dinner-only option as well.  So check it out… and if you order meals from them, please post your feedback.  Knowledge is power… Share the power.  Bon Appetit!


The Joy Bus Feeds Cancer Patients in Arizona (Maricopa County only)

This isn’t your typical groovy bus…. It’s THE JOY BUS & it delivers homemade meals to cancer patients!


Finding the time cook a yummy, healthy, home-cooked meal when a loved one is battling cancer is no easy task.  So often times, friends and family members will start delivering prepared meals and gift cards to restaurants to help out.  But if you live in Maricopa County, Arizona, you are in luck- The Joy Bus now delivers fresh, homemade, healthy meals to cancer patients FREE of charge.  WowZaWowWow! 

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

The Joy Bus offers 3 programs to choose from:

Program A:  Once a week, Joy Bus can deliver up to 5 yummy, healthy meals like Roasted “Smart” Chicken with Squash Blossom Risotto and Local Greens directly to your house.  Meals are healthy, delicious and use mostly local & organic ingredients whenever possible.

Program B:  For those on a restricted diet.  In addition to everything mentioned above in Program A, these meals are gluten free, sugar free & salt free.  Doesn’t Melange of Seasonal Vegetables, Fresh Shell Beans and Walnut Pistou sound amazing?!

Program C:  You can pick up “Family Style” meals like Summer Vegetable Lasagna & a simple salad of garden lettuces with vinaigrette for the entire family to enjoy.  Just place an order through The Joy Bus’ online system.


Eligibility for The Joy Bus meals is based on an individual’s physical inability to acquire or prepare meals due to cancer or other homebound debilitating illnesses.  To apply, please email your request to

p.s.  “Cancer sucks. Our food doesn’t!”  This is a direct quote from Founder of Joy Bus’s young son.  I love it ;-)

FREE 90 day trial of e-Caring’s Home Health Monitoring System



e-Caring's graphics make this system super easy to use!


When a loved one is sick or needs taking care of in a home environment, how can you easily keep track of and monitor their condition?


Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…  eCaring has created an online system that tracks & monitors daily patient activities such as eating, sleeping, mental state, bathroom habits, leisure activities & more.  Caregivers, care workers & even the patients themselves can easily enter information into the system regardless of their computer skills or English literacy.  They’ll even walk you through the set-up & use of the system over the phone.


Besides its monitoring aspects, all data is shareable so doctors & care providers  can view a patient’s status in real-time and look for health patterns by hour, days, weeks or months.  And if you are overseeing the care of a loved one in a different state, you can easily be kept abreast of his or her condition.  eCaring also can alert you should a situation develop that requires immediate attention (ie. a fall, refusing medications or food, etc.) and it can also track paid caregiver’s hours and activities.


eCaring is currently offering a FREE 90 day trial for all users.  In return, all they ask is that users provide feedback about their experiences with the system.  To learn more about this offer, click HERE.  After the trial period ends, e-Caring will charge users $25-$50 per month.  If you have any questions about how eCaring works, contact Melody at