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Tess Blasko Talks About CancerCon 2019

Champagne, Tess, Hannah and Sam

A Letter of Thanks from Tess Blasko

I’d first like to start this letter to say how thankful I am to be able to be apart of the Elephants and Tea herd and how thankful I am to have been able to attend CancerCon [courtesy of the SGAYA Foundation] in Denver this year. I was surrounded by a group of bad asses who have been affected by the demon we all know, Cancer. It truly was a pleasure to travel with you all and to experience this amazing convention once again. I will forever be grateful for everything you guys have done not only for me, but also for many other patients/survivors. Keep doing great things!

 

 

 

 

 

A little explanation on CancerCon-

Have you ever felt like you were drowning and trying to come up for breaths of air in a panic of what is happening? Imagine that and even be surrounded by people watching you while you are sinking and just yelling out encouraging words in hope to help you stop drowning. They do not understand the struggle and how hard it is to catch your breath when you suffocating under the pressure of the “water”. I feel this way, yet I am not drowning… I am just living the life of a cancer survivor. I am trying to find my place and trying to get a grasp on this whole life after cancer that I thought was going to be such a simple task. I mean I lived a life without cancer before right? So it should be no problem getting back to that life, correct? Wrong… very wrong.  “You’re healthy” “you’re alive” “don’t dwell on the past”.  It is easy for those around you to express those words if you are struggling, but they truly just do not get it. I am healthy, but I am constantly feeling around my body to find something wrong. I am alive, but I was so close to death. I dwell on the past because it was traumatizing and the future also scares the crap out of me. I am drowning. CancerCon becomes the hand that pulls me up while my lungs are filling up with water and I am fighting to breathe. Before attending CancerCon I have never felt more alive and comfortable in my entire life. Being at CancerCon I am surrounded by badass individuals, like myself, who understand all the emotions that I am feeling. This convention puts into perspective that, if you had/have cancer, you truly are not alone and you have an army of individuals in your corner. CancerCon will forever impact me in the most positive ways and having the opportunity to attend is truly a blessing. 

Washington DC = WOW! The Raulerson’s Advocate For Childhood Cancer

Meet the Raulerson’s!

Thanks to our donors Micheal, Tammy and Tacey were able to attend the Alliance for Childhood Cancer’s Advocacy Day this past April!

It is people like the Raulerson’s who continue to share the responsibility of making sure our legislators know about the serious impact childhood cancer has on youngsters and their families.

It goes without saying that good solid Research and long term Survivorship Programs are needed…

And now Tammy (mom) Raulerson:

Washington, D.C.=WOW!

As usual, our trip began with its our normal hiccups and bumps.  Also, as usual, God had it all worked out.

Our first flight got cancelled and we were rescheduled to fly out of Houston in the evening.  That meant us arriving in D.C. very late at night.  In fact, we were so late the hotel shuttle had stopped running.

We left Houston in 80° weather and arrived in DC to 47° weather!  Thankfully, I had packed our jackets and travel blankets in our carryon bags!

As most of you know, our family rarely goes anywhere without making new friends.  Having been a teacher of world geography, I am curious about learning more about people when I hear accents.  Of our 5 cab rides while in DC, we learned more about Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Laos and Sierra Leone.  It was fun to make conversation with the drivers.

Even though we got very little sleep due to such a late arrival, our Tuesday training was great!  It was hard to settle down and sleep because we knew 2 of our very best friends were in the room next to us.  They came to represent South Carolina.  It had been 2 years since we had seen each other, so we were so excited to be reunited Tuesday morning!!

Not only did we meet important leaders in childhood cancer awareness and research, we also heard from vital leaders in health care organizations.  We especially enjoyed getting to know so many from other states and from Texas!  Not that I am biased or anything, but our contingency from Texas was exceptional!

One of the ladies and I got to talking about where we were from.  She grew up in Dallas and still lives there.  However, in our discussion we realized she was born in MY hometown!  Some of her family still lives there.  As we were talking, I realized I know several members of her family.  What a small world!

One of the members of our team was a 12-year-old and his dad from Houston.  As we talked, he and Tacey realized they had the same oncologist and had several common friends.  Another member was a senior biology student at A&M.  We also had friends in common with him.  Again, it felt like a small world.

Training was so informative, interesting and important.  We were updated on all the imperative points and notes we needed to share with the legislators.

After traveling and getting to the hotel in the early morning hours, the day began to be a little long and overwhelming for Tacey during lunch.  She needed a break and went up to the room to rest.  Just as I was about to text her to come back to the training, she sent me a text letting me know she was headed back down.

This may not seem like much to a lot of you, but to me it was huge.  In a very unfamiliar environment, a large city full of strangers, etc., Tacey took the initiative to leave the hotel room, find the elevator and return to training without us assisting her.  She is very independent and self-reliant, but being in an environment like this can be unsettling to most! [Editor’s Note: Tacey has a visual impairment.]

After a long day of training, we and other families were treated to dinner by St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  Tacey has been an ambassador/honored child for St. Baldrick’s since 2007.  It is an amazing foundation.

Wednesday was our big day on Capitol Hill.  It started early with the bus ride to the Hill and a group photo.  We took a few minutes to take small group photos, too.  Then, we took off to our first meeting.

While waiting to get through security at one of the building of House offices, we saw Secret Service rush to set up a perimeter as Secretary of State Pompeo exited a car and entered the building.  Later in the day, we were asked to step aside in a hallway of another House building.  As we moved to the side of the hallway, we saw security escorting the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Yes, these things were surreal.  They also happen so quickly you don’t think to grab your phone to snap photos!

Our day was long.  We walked over 5 miles between House and Senate buildings.  At one point, Tacey walked barefoot from one of the Senate buildings to one of the House buildings.  We were rushing to get to our next meeting, so once again I didn’t get a photo!  LOL

Thankfully, we had a lobbyist from DC helping us get from one place to another.  At one point, I think we took some short-cuts in the tunnels under the House buildings that weren’t necessarily open to the public!  LOL

We met with legislative leaders from 5 of our Texas congressmen’s offices.  Everyone we met was very gracious, listened and gave us great hope for the future of childhood cancer research.

Hearing Tacey and the other 2 childhood cancer survivors in our group share their stories with these critical people was so moving for all of us, but especially for those we were meeting.  We also had 2 moms who shared the stories of the passing of their children from childhood cancer and its complications.  One particular story brought my emotions to the surface as I realized we had been in the hospital and on the cancer floor the day the young girl passed.  I vividly remember praying for the family at the time!

Being part of this type of advocacy and awareness was energizing, inspiring and empowering!  It was an incredible experience we will never forget!  It was also something we want to continue!

We wrapped up a successful day with pizza in the hotel room with our friends.  It is a good thing it was in the room closest to the elevators and our room on the other side since we laughed and talked and laughed until after midnight!

We had plans to visit the Holocaust Museum and the National Zoo the next day, but Tacey’s health decided to give us a scare in the middle of the night.  Everything turned out to be okay, but our plans had to be postponed until the next time we get to travel to DC.

It is hard to put into words the true effect of the trip on our family.  It was surreal, empowering, encouraging, inspiring and so much more.  We are so thankful we made the trip and participated in something so monumental!

Without the very generous help from family, friends and cancer organizations this trip would not have been possible.  Itis only because of so many people’s help it happened.

Just to remind everyone of God’s hand in everything… We had some emergency issues come up the week before we left.  Those emergencies used all of our savings and what we had set aside in case our expenses were over what we estimated.  We had a debit card with our money for food and other incidentals.  We returned home with $0.61 on that card!  As always, God was in control!

BELATED THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS – 10 YEARS OF GRATITUDE

TAKE A BITE OUT OF CANCER

10 YEARS OF GRATITUDE

A HUGE SUCCESS!

PLEASE forgive my tardiness in thanking all of you. On January 26, 2019, we held our annual fundraiser where over $35,ooo was raised – THANKS TO YOUR HELP!

INDEED – IT DOES TAKE A VILLAGE…

I have so many people to thank – and please note that each of you will be receiving a personal letter – but I wanted to list out friends, family and sponsors for the record.

OUR SPONSORS:

The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation

THRIVE CAUSEMETICS

Manual & Heidi Glynias

George and Jan Giallourakis

CR Construction

Dave and Dena Grubb

Ray Fogg, Jr.

Forst Foundation

Lou & Ann Frangos

John & Betty Poulos

John & Judith Kackloudis

William & Susan Weir

Tony & Jeanne Paras

Tony & Jean Chivilis

Taylor & Courtney Hawkins

Costa & Maria Mougiannis

Astoria Cafe and Market (George Kantzios)

Fairview Lanes

Bella Cappella Salon

Jeff & Christina Musser

Steve & Maria Alex

Paul & Christine Venizelos

Dimitrios & Deena Tsatiris

Sts. Constantine & Helen Philoptochos

Jan Layne

Kara Falkowski

Dick and Anna Warren

Lilly & John Anitas

Jim & Heidi Voiklis

Elyce Wozniak

Sue Giallourakis

St. Demetrios Philoptochos

Nick & Camilla Giallourakis

Estelle Callas

Jim Sofianos

Dr. & Mrs. Jeff Auletta

Dr. Debbie Webster

Steven Giallourakis

Brad & Alexa Ryan

Rudy & Carol Najda

Mary Beth Famiano

Mikie & David Hillie

Maria & Nick Mavroidis

Susan Donovan & Bill Reeder

Mr. & Mrs. Stuart Kline

Bryan & Debbie Rogan

David Olson

Don & Debbie George

Rob & Trish Risman

Burton Carol Management LLC

Porter Wright Law Firm

Brad & Renee Seybert

Alex & Aryn Kosmidis

Nick & Jean Hillman

Elaine & Claude Campbell

Petitti’s Garden Center

United Polish Club

Playhouse Square

Cleveland Browns

Alexandra & Ben Rawding

Fr. & Mrs. James A Doukas

Paula & Doug Randolph

Phil, Alysse & Alana Giallourakis

The Zapis Family

The Wymer Family

Christopher Elbow Chocolates

Westshore Wine Co.

Fusions Salon

Jim Ptacek

Red Tail Golf Club

Elpida Kosmidis

Sargeant Clean (Andrew Bendik & Brian Krusz)

Lake Erie Crushers

Cleveland CAVS

Canton CHARGE

Sat Nam Studios

Charles Scott Salon

Holden Forest

Walgreens

Old Firehouse Winery

Clague Playhouse

Spevock’s Nautical Lane

Claudia Nichol Allen (Our Photographer)

Coyne Catering (We love you!)

DJ Bryon Eulinberg

OUR ORGANIZERS:

Tina Poulos –

Jean & Nick Hillman

Elaine & Claude Campbell

John & Betty Poulos

Mary & Jim Diamond

Becky Giallourakis

Joey Terry

Elpida Kosmidis

Polly Furey

Nick Giallourakis

FRIENDS AND FAMILY:

Jan & Byron Spooner

The Santarelli Family

Ellen Chrisman

Morgan Pavlich

Maggie Steffas

The Giallourakis Clan

The Kackloudis Clan

The Chiviles Clan

The Kariotakis Family

Maria  & Steven Alex

Jeanne & Tony Paras

The In It Together Club

Philoptochos Society

St. Demetrios Church

Metropolis of Pittsburg

All the people in our beautiful community. God Bless All of You!!!

 

Thank you for another successful year.

Keep an eye out for a new kind of fundraiser in 2020…

We will not rest until there is a cure!

FIGHT! CONQUER!! CURE!!!

Please forgive me if I left out your name.
Shoot me an email and I will add you to the list!!
Hope you enjoy the photographs done by talented Claudia Nicole Allen:

FUNDRAISER

 

 

 

ARE YOU BORED?

I have noticed that recently a few folks have unsubscribed to our newsletter (shock!) and after some reflection –

I figured out why….

Life around our homestead has been peaceful, well sort of…Let’s face it, we ARE HAVING A FUNDRAISER THIS COMING WEEKEND.

But – Steven is well.

Thank God.

Boring.

So, lately my messages have been about research, people,

special events like CUREFEST

CANCERCON

and our awesome

Be Calm & Stay Strong Wellness Program.

So, yes life is boring – and isn’t that grand???

But please remember that there are hundreds of families out there

who would like to be bored.

Their children are fighting for their lives.

Let’s pray for them.

Let’s send them love and support.

And, let’ s support

Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Research. 

Remember, we will not rest until there is a Cure!

(not so boring after all…)

Being Thankful This Holiday Season

IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE

TIS THE SEASON

TIS THE SEASON TO BE THANKFUL

 TO BE MINDFUL

 TO BE GRATEFUL

…AND TO REMEMBER THOSE LOVED ONES

AND FRIENDS GONE FROM US.

PEACE TO ALL OF YOU!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

HAPPY HANUKKAH

JOYOUS KWANZAA

BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOURS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS – AND HELP US -TAKE A BITE OUT OF CANCER


JOIN US ON

SATURDAY

JANUARY 26, 2019

AS WE

TAKE A BITE OUT OF CANCER!

7:00 – 11:30 pm

St. Demetrios Cultural Center

22909 Center Ridge Road

Rocky River, Ohio 44116

TICKETS ARE $45

TO PURCHASE TICKETS OR MAKE A DONATION

https://sgayafund2019.eventbrite.com/

THIS YEAR WE WILL HAVE A PHOTO BOOTH!!! SGAYA_10thAnnual_DonorForm_Editable

and food and beverages, music, raffles, auctions, fun!

ALL PROCEEDS GO TO OUR 

RESEARCH, PATIENT EDUCATION, SOCIAL SUPPORT AND WELLNESS PROGRAMS.

 

Thankfulness and Gratitude – OUR TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY

HELLO FRIENDS

I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT IT IS NOVEMBER

THANKSGIVING IS NEXT WEEK,

AND IN TWO MONTHS WE WILL BE HOSTING OUR TENTH ANNUAL FUNDRAISER.

THE LAST TEN YEARS HAVE BEEN FILLED WITH GREATNESS AND SORROW.

DESPITE THE LOSS OF LOVED ONES AND DEAR FRIENDS

WE REMAIN RESOLUTE IN PROCLAIMING OUR DEEPEST THANKS TO ALL OF YOU.

HENCE A NEED TO CELEBRATE ALL OF YOU

AND TO

CELEBRATE LIFE!

I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US

AS WE

TAKE A BITE OUT OF CANCER

Saturday, January 26, 2019

7:00 – 11:30 pm.

admission: $45

St. Demetrios Cultural Center

22909 Center Ridge Road

Rocky River, Ohio 44116

for more information contact:

angie@fightconquercure.com

or visit our website www.fightconquercure.org

to purchase your tickets or make a donation.

All funds raised go directly to our many programs –

Wellness, Social Support, Education and Research.

We are all volunteers!

WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL THERE IS A CURE

FIGHT CONQUER CURE!!!

Summer is Gone!!!

This has been a busy summer!

Check out our photographs and see what we have been up to!!!

Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Advocacy

Hard At Work in Washington DC

Our GO FUND ME Page on Facebook

has generated $1470 to support the distribution

of Wellness Bags to AYA Cancer Patients!

Thank you for your generosity!

 

The Angie Fowler AYA Cancer Institute granted us $7500 to increase the distribution of our Be Calm & Stay Strong Wellness gift bags. We look forward to reaching out to more AYA Cancer Medical Facilities to help and support young cancer patients during their treatment.

and last but not least…

 SAVE THE DATE!!!!

TAKE A BITE OUT OF CANCER FUNDRAISER

WILL BE

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2019!!!

HELP OUR Be Calm & Stay Strong Wellness Gift Bags

Hello folks –

We need your help. Due the popularity of our Wellness Gift Bags to AYA Cancer Patients – our funds are gone – we are now dipping into our research and education funds in order to bring hope and peace to newly diagnosed cancer patients.

If you donate $125 or more your name will be mentioned as the Wellness Bag donor! Don’t have that kind of money? Well get a group of friends together and make it happen. All you need to do is include the group members names in your message to me.

Remember – no gift is too small. Every dollar helps!!

We humbly thank you for your generosity.

And – here is the GoFundMe Link: https://www.gofundme.com/aya-cancer-patient-wellness-bags

Sincerely,

Angie

PS – PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU need more information about the BE CALM & STAY STRONG WELLNESS PROGRAM?

 

YA CANCER SURVIVORS SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS & A BIG THANK YOU

We thought it would be nice to hear from some of the individuals we supported this year. In April a group of NE Ohio YA Cancer Survivors received scholarships to attend CancerCon (a conference dedicated to providing social support to YA Cancer Warriors).

Note: You will see photos of survivors, caregivers, family and friends – but Foundation Funding was strictly used for the six NE Ohioans: Tess Blasko, Jennifer Anand, Margaux Yerian, Samantha Krizo, Christopher Evans, and Peter Citro.

Here are some comments and reflections on cancer, CancerCon, and the Steven G Foundation.

 

“Dear Steven G Foundation,

On a daily basis, I’m reminded of the “bad” things cancer has done- from being on insulin, to aches and pains, to the various medications- sometimes it can be really tough. But then comes Cancer Con.  This weekend is about celebrating cancer. As weird as it sounds, that is your golden ticket into this exclusive conference.  We are celebrating the monster that brought us together.  From all over the United States and Canada, with a few other friends thrown in. For a few days, we get to be pampered by the makeover artists, get a chair massage, score some free swag from exhibitors, and dance the night away,  We get to forget our reality at home.  We get to not have to explain our tiredness, or our diets or our hair. We get not to have to explain our billion bathroom breaks. We get not to have to explain our weird cravings or sudden dizziness. That’s what this is about.  People who get it, without saying a word.  People who get the 3am moments alone, or the strained friendships, or the self-doubt and self-judgement. We are surviving, and thriving, and out living it.

Every year, this conference is what gives me the renewed strength, hope, and comfort to continue for another year.  It refreshes my soul, and lifts my spirits.  I leave with new friends, and a renewed sense of togetherness and hope for a brighter future that is cancer free.  Thank you so much for enabling me to go to this amazing conference. ”

Sincerely, Jennifer Anand

Dear Steven G Foundation,

“To start this off I just want to express how amazing this foundation is and how it has helped me in ways I didn’t think were possible. Through the Steven G foundation I got an opportunity to attend CancerCon 2018 in Denver, Colorado. When I first heard about CancerCon I was going through treatments in 2017 and it instantly caught my interest.  I just imagined being surrounded by so many different people who understood everything I was going through and I knew I had to go. When I arrived at CancerCon it felt like I was finally able to breath. I wasn’t constantly trapped in my mind thinking about my emotions and the trauma that I have just endured. I wasn’t self conscious about my hair being short and I wasn’t uncomfortable to show my scars. I was at this busy convention completely myself in a room full of strangers but there was a sense of calm when I looked around because we were all just connected and comfortable with each other. Cancer is so ugly in a lot of the things it brings. The side effects from the medicines, the losses, the emotional damage, and it changes your questions of life. The one thing is not ugly from cancer is the people that that this disease brought into my life. They have impacted me in a way that is indescribable. Being able to meet more amazing people at CancerCon and hearing all the different stories just jump started my new view on life and pushed me to better myself in every way possible. I didn’t fully understand how much I needed the weekend in Denver until I arrived. Not only was the whole convention amazing, I was able to explore Denver and I fell in love! It’s such a beautiful place and . I am so excited to let the relationships that I made with people grow and I cannot wait until CancerCon 2019! I defiantly would like to return again

Again thank you so much for everything this foundation has done for me. You truly helped changed a part of my life and I will forever be grateful for that!”

-Tess Blasko

 

“If there is anything that I can do to help your foundation in anyway I would love to help you guys out as much as you helped me.”

Samantha Krizo

We love our Caregivers!

fight. conquer. cure.