Author Archive

September, October, and November 2022 Excitement

By Sarah Ellery

My Hope Bag received 42 bag requests during these three months. Along with the requests were many events where the My Hope Bag experience was shared with many more men and women.

September 2Bingo for Boobies at Encanterra Resort Community, Queen Creek.  There were nearly 200 men, women, and a few children in attendance.  It was such a fun event with lots of B-I-N-G-O’s and lots of prizes.  Approximately $10,000 net was received $7,100 of which was donated to Robyn’s Nest, a future planned respite center for breast cancer women in memory of Robyn Zepeda. Watch for future Bingo events in 2023.

September 168th Annual Charity Golf Tournament, Talking Stick Golf Club, Scottsdale. 131 golfers turned out for this signature event including 8 Green Queens. The Queens (which included one male “Queen”) are selected from men and women we know who are active in their breast cancer journey.  They come and have a fun day and get to know others who are also active in their journey. This year’s sponsors included TDIndustries, Phillips Law Group, Environ, Adobe Drywall, ASU Alumni, Insurist, Karber Mechanical, Edward Jones, and Swift Transportation. We thank these wonderful sponsors without whom the golf tournament would not be possible. Please view our donors on our website. This year’s net proceeds were just over $25,000.  Huge thank you to all who attended and all who volunteered to make this a fabulous event.

October (All Month)Paul’s Ace Hardware supported My Hope Bag through their Round Up program.  When customers pay for their items, Paul’s Ace Hardware asks if they would like to Round Up their total for My Hope Bag. Paul’s Ace Hardware has 8 stores and My Hope Bag participated in all 8. We are overwhelmed to accept a donation of $9,967.83 from the Round Up efforts!!

October 19 – Intel Winnow Breast Cancer Fair, Chandler. A great fair was held at the Intel complex allowing employees to ask questions of the participants. My Hope Bag met many people enquiring of the participants how they help breast cancer patients. We have three new volunteers and a support group associate to help increase awareness at Intel.

October 24 – My Hope Bag traveled to United Aviate Academy in Goodyear to meet with some of their staff and students. United Aviate Academy trains future pilots with United Airlines. We had a delightful time with them while they assembled 50 bags for our future use. They also bagged the bracelets for the bags, bagged thank you cards, and assembled Thrive Causemetics into Thrive Causemetics cosmetic bags which also went into the bags.  A big thank you to Sherri who coordinated the event. Thank you also to staff members Carmen and Pam as well as students DeAnna, Isabelle, Brittney, and Jinhua. The ladies assembled the bags with all contents in a little over an hour.  One suggested we bring 200 bags next time. I said, “Done!”  Their generosity saved My Hope Bag hours of assembling bags on an as-needed basis. Thank you again, lovely ladies. We had a great time and sure look forward to future events with you.

October 31 – Keetra Bippus featured My Hope Bag in the Queen Creek Sun Times. Read the full article here.

October (All Month) – Mesa Police Department held its Pink Patch Project to sponsor My Hope Bag for the month of October.  Profits from the sale of pink patches, pink patch t-shirts, PP lapel pins, and PP coins, were presented to My Hope Bag at the MPD Pink Patch Breakfast on November 14 for $4,750!!! As well, several officers and administrative employees gathered with My Hope Bag volunteers to assemble the bags to be given to breast cancer men and women. Thank you Mesa Police Department for your service to men and women with breast cancer.

October 31Nick Ciletti, Channel 15 News, spoke with men and women at the Mesa Police Department who were assembling Hope Bags with My Hope Bag volunteers. Read the full story here.

Thank you to each and every one of you who were a part of our exciting September, October, and November! We can’t do what we do, without you!

United Aviate Academy volunteers to assemble My Hope Bags

By Sarah Ellery

Monday, October 24, My Hope Bag traveled to United Aviate Academy in Goodyear to meet with some of their staff and students. United Aviate Academy trains future pilots with United Airlines. We had a delightful time with them while they assembled 50 bags for our future use. They also bagged the bracelets for the bags, bagged thank you cards, and assembled Thrive Causemetics into Thrive Causemetics cosmetic bags which also went into the bags.

A big thank you to Sherri who coordinated the event. Thank you also to staff members Carmen and Pam as well as students DeAnna, Isabelle, Brittney, and Jinhua. The ladies assembled the bags with all contents in a little over an hour.  One suggested we bring 200 bags next time. I said, “Done!”

Their generosity saved My Hope Bag hours of assembling bags on an as-needed basis. Thank you again, lovely ladies. We had a great time and sure look forward to future events with you.

Hope Sisters tell all: How it started vs. How it’s going

Our Hope Sisters are an integral part of My Hope Bag. Every single one has a different story. A few of our Hope Sisters share: How it started Vs How it’s going, and what they’ve learned about themselves along the journey!

Kim McCauley:

During Chemo and current wrote in vacation in  New Orleans.  What I learned about myself?  That I am stronger than I ever thought possible. And I am thankful that I truly believed it would get better. Cause I did!!!

Sally Nettleton:
Never take life for granted. It can change on a whim. I’m a 10-year survivor and love to travel and am currently in Alamos, Mexico. When I was going through chemo, my husband shaved his head for me.
Marci Cox:
I am stronger than I thought. I made a bad situation into something good and have found a new love for helping others get through their diagnosis and journey.

Mandi Pokorney:

– I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 after going in for my first mammogram screening at age 40. I had elected to get the 3D mammogram screening which picked up some irregularities. My diagnosis required several rounds of chemo and I elected to have a double mastectomy. After 2 years of treatment, I beat breast cancer! I was absolutely overwhelmed and grateful for all of the support, love, and encouragement I received from family, friends & co-workers during my treatment.  My healthcare provider team was outstanding and helped me every step of the way. All of the support from friends, family, physicians, and co-workers allowed me to stay focused on my fight against breast cancer and overcome!

– Preventative screenings and early detection result in better outcomes and longer lives!  Don’t put off your preventative mammography screenings! For those survivors out there, please share your story whenever possible, it’s so beneficial for women going through treatment and fighting cancer to see survivors living with vitality and optimism!

 

Kay Sinclair:
Been fighting for almost four years and always will unless a miracle happens since I am stage 4 and systematic.  I have learned to let faith take over this journey and not to have fear!  And to enjoy one day at a time by exploring your buck list and going with the flow that days give you.  I give thanks and blessings for each day so am given.

Lifestyle and the role it can play in cancer prevention

By Lizzy Ellery, MHB Vice President

 

In the world today, we are overloaded with an exhausting list of options when it comes to our health. From the recommendations for which diet plan to follow, how many minutes a week to exercise, and the things we should do versus the things we shouldn’t do. It can just be very overwhelming. Especially when you have cancer on the mind.

According to American Cancer Society, “For most Americans who do not use tobacco, the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet, and physical activity. At least 18% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could be prevented.” (Cancer.org, 2022)

At this point in time, there isn’t a way to fully ensure you prevent cancer from occurring. There are many, many factors that contribute to the development of cancer, not to mention the genetic aspect. Even though we may not know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that lifestyle will in fact help prevent cancer, it couldn’t hurt to at least adopt some of those lifestyle changes (just in case). There are many resources that indicate lifestyle changes can yield positive outcomes. Here are a few resources to review when you consider what you can do to make these changes in your own life if you choose.

 

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

Keep your weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adult life.

 

Be physically active.

Adults: Get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination of these). Getting to or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal.

Children and teens: Get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day.

Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other forms of screen-based entertainment.

 

Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

Foods that are high in nutrients in amounts that help you get to and stay at a healthy body weight

A variety of vegetables – dark green, red, and orange, fiber-rich legumes (beans and peas), and others

Fruits, especially whole fruits in a variety of colors

Whole grains

A healthy eating pattern limits or does not include:

Red and processed meats

Sugar-sweetened beverages

Highly processed foods and refined grain products

 

It is best not to drink alcohol.

People who do choose to drink alcohol should have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.

We all fully support the idea of living your best life! Don’t dwell on the unknown, rather enjoy your life and adopt the healthy habits that are meaningful to you.

 

Additional resources to consider:

Breast Cancer Resource Foundation – Nutrition Care for Breast Cancer Patients

Our message in October during breast cancer awareness month

By Lizzy Ellery, MHB Vice President

You’re probably already aware that breast cancer awareness month happens in October. As soon as you start seeing Halloween and fall decorations in the stores, you’re likely to see a sea of pink accessories as well, in an effort to promote awareness.

Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to the hype of October. Taking out the commercialism aspect of the month, we choose to look at it as a great time to remember to schedule your mammograms, bring awareness to prevention techniques, and share important resources.

So, before you do anything else, get your mammogram scheduled! Imaging centers may already be booked for October, but at the very least, get it scheduled so you can move on and have one less thing on your to-do list. My Hope Bag (MHB) partners with Solis Mammography to offer free mammograms to those who are uninsured or underinsured. Please do not let money stand in the way of your prevention.

Mammograms are still the best way to detect breast cancer early. When it is caught early, it is generally easier to treat. It may not be big enough to feel or cause symptoms, but would be visible for imaging machines to pick up (CDC, 2021). We always urge women (and men) to be their own advocates. If you feel like something is not right or have concerns, contact your doctor, and get an appointment as soon as possible.

We’ve got a lot of information all October long. Stay tuned!

Bingo for Boobies in Queen Creek, AZ

By Sarah Ellery

Bingo for Boobies is back in the East Valley.  It will be on September 2, 2022, at the Encanterra Community Clubhouse in Queen Creek.

Robyn Zepeda received her angel wings two months ago. When I shared a vision with Robyn about a respite center for breast cancer women to gather and share what they are going through, we both exclaimed how much hope and encouragement would flow among these women.  The first thing Robyn said was, “I want to help!”

This center will provide speakers who will share our warrior’s education, inspiration, resources, laughter, and most of all comradery. As well, there will be a garden from which breast cancer warriors can pick fresh produce or sit on a patio and enjoy the peacefulness. It will be part of Robyn’s legacy with My Hope Bag and will be appropriately named Robyn’s Nest.

When you join us on September 2, you will have a chance to participate in a raffle from which funds will lay the cornerstone for Robyn’s Nest. My Hope Bag has many programs to service the breast cancer community.  By attending Bingo for Boobies, you will be a part of continuing those programs.

To purchase tickets, https://www.myhopebag.org/bingo-new/

Our Warrior, Robyn

By Sarah Ellery

Robyn & Sarah

Our dear Robyn Zepeda gently received her angel wings after such an intense fight against cancer. She was a force to be reckoned with and cancer did everything it could to beat her down.

Robyn fought hard and was a beacon of light to those with whom she came in contact. She will be missed by many. I, for one, have lost a business colleague and a deeply loved very special friend.

From the first day we met, Robyn was here to help others. She made the calls, traveled the distance, and never let anything get in her way. When cancer reared its ugly head, she would say, “Not now, you beast.” And on she went.  In her time with My Hope Bag, Robyn headed the Hope Sister program and trained women to venture out into the breast cancer community to serve newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. She grew the program to extend into the West Valley.

 

Robyn & Toni

Robyn sat on My Hope Bag’s Board of Directors as Board Secretary. One day she took My Hope Bag’s By-Laws and read them with a fine-tooth comb.  She felt they needed to be an example of the preciseness we hold with the organization.

Robyn didn’t wait to be asked to promote My Hope Bag, she was always in the trenches. She had literature in her car and extra chemo caps, scarves, and anything else she might need so she was prepared if she met someone with breast cancer.

She believed in My Hope Bag and always talked about its future. When I told her about our vision for a respite center where warriors can go and be away from their cancer world for a short time, I barely got the words out when she said, “I want to help develop that!”

She always wanted to take the next step to help others.

Robyn & Beth

 

To say this mighty warrior will be missed is an extreme understatement. She had a huge heart that cancer was unable to penetrate.

She is loved by many and will continue to be a very important part of My Hope Bag. Please take a moment to listen to “Warrior” sung by Hannah Kerr.

“When she fell down, she got stronger. Every scar on her skin was a reminder of when she didn’t give in.”

Rest well, my dear sweet Robyn.

 

 

Our Warrior, Robyn

We Miss You Alissa

Our dear friend and My Hope Bag board member, Alissa Serignese, passed away in January 2022, after a recurrence of breast cancer. Alissa joined My Hope Bag after meeting her through a local women’s networking group in July 2020. She wanted to pay forward the kindness and love she experienced when she was going through her breast cancer journey. Little did we know what a blessing she was going to be to My Hope Bag. At the time, we were inquiring about a Treasurer for our board. Alissa said, “Sure, I’d love to be your Treasurer!” We later learned that when she shared that with her fellow employees at ASU, they laughed and said, “YOU???” I said, “Why didn’t you tell me you don’t like numbers?” She said she wanted to be where we needed her. Anytime we had a need, Alissa was right there.

Alissa signed up right away to participate in My Hope Bag’s Hope Sister program. She visited newly diagnosed breast cancer warriors and spread joy to them while delivering one of the bags filled with comfort items. Alissa could relate to what these women were going through. She made them feel loved and cared about. She participated in the Adopt-a-Family program at Christmas 2020. Donned with her mask, she delivered presents to recipients in the program. She always brought a smile to their faces and helped them forget about their cancer for a little while knowing others cared about them enough to buy them presents.

At My Hope Bag’s annual golf tournament in 2020, Alissa golfed and had a wonderful time. In 2021, after golfing and coming back to the banquet hall, she let everyone know of her love for ASU and waved the ASU fork sign around the room! Anytime I would see her posted on Facebook, she most likely was at an ASU event or pictured with her family. I only knew Alissa a year and a half, but during that time I got to know a beautiful, spirited, heartfelt woman who will be missed by all who knew her.

In honor of Alissa, The Sun Devil Women’s Basketball team dedicated the PINK game in her memory.  ASU Alumni Association created a custom-designed t-shirt to wear to the game.

Donate Non-Slip Fuzzy Socks to Anna’s Army

By Julie Reid, Lifelong Friend

I met Anna when we were 5 years old. Her family had just moved here from New York and met my family through mutual friends and moved into the same apartments. We even started kindergarten together until my family moved. Our families from that point on were connected and our parents became great friends. I have many memories of playing Land of the Lost and other games as kids with Anna and her sister Helena. We grew up and as adults became even closer friends.

I have so many memories of going dancing and celebrating our birthdays together. We are only 3 days apart. There are many life events we were there for each other. Her sons were her heart as she would say. Her husband and family were her number one priority. We were frequent texters and saw each other often.

In March/April 2019 Anna told me about her breast cancer diagnosis. She was a fighter and was determined to beat that darn cancer from day one. I told her that she had an Army of us behind her, fighting with her each step of the way. That day I penned the term “Anna’s Army”. I told her, “we are your Army and will fight for and with you.” She was scared but stayed upbeat and positive through it all. We didn’t expect cancer to take her and I figured she could and would beat it.

That June I was able to be in California to visit and to be there for her 8th Chemo treatment, ironically 8 is my lucky number. I didn’t realize or think that would be the last time I would see my lifelong friend. She continued to go back and forth, good news, not-so-good news. When the pandemic hit in 2020 she met those obstacles and seemed to be doing better. Then in March/April, 2020 things started happening and by May she was declining. I was driving on my way to see her in her last days when she passed away on May 22nd and only 2 days from her youngest son’s 8th birthday.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of and miss Anna. I was contemplating how I was going to spend 2022 doing something that would be in memory and honor of her. I kept asking her in my mind to send me a sign, talk to me and let me know what I can do for this. I was shopping in early December with a friend. While in the store we happened upon a lady’s warm non-slid fuzzy socks. I picked up a pair and felt Anna tell me, ‘Those socks are what you are going to do girl’. Then I knew. Warm, non-slid fuzzy socks. Anna always had new warm socks at chemo because it was so cold in there. She would post pictures on chemo days in our Anna’s Army Facebook group which socks she had on that day.

I knew I could get the socks from my monthly Gilbert Girlfriends Uno Game Nights. I did, however, have to find an organization that could use them. I posted in Gilbert Girlfriends looking for an organization that helps women with breast cancer and was directed to My Hope Bag. I did some research and instantly knew this is where the socks needed to go. I knew this is where I need to put my time and passion, with Anna guiding my way from Heaven. My 2022 is dedicated to Anna and My Hope Bag. I plan on acquiring non-slip fuzzy socks that will be added to the My Hope Bags.

If you would like to donate to Anna’s Army Non-Slip Fuzzy Socks Campaign, please contact Julie, juliareid1988@gmail.com, or My Hope Bag, info@myhopebag.org. All socks will be donated to the My Hope Bag bags that are gifted to women with breast cancer, www.myhopebag.org. Julie will be providing periodic updates on how many non-slip fuzzy socks have been donated.

2021 Highlights

Deonna Jacobs lost her fight with breast cancer. In true fashion, her love and compassion for other were exemplified when she requested family and friends donate to My Hope Bag in lieu of flowers at her passing.

Thank you to these ladies who came out to assemble My Hope Bags, five of whom are breast cancer survivors.

Over 150 bags were delivered to breast cancer warriors in 2021, most of whom are in the Phoenix area.  Some have become a volunteer with My Hope Bag to pay forward what they received from us.

6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament – Twelve Sponsors and many attendees helped My Hope Bag raise $20,000 to continue many programs serving breast cancer warriors.

Bingo for Boobies – We always have fun at this event. Coming out of covid, we were offered a different venue at a private residence.  A great time was had by all.

Thank you to My Hope Bag’s new annual sponsors, as well as our Pinktober sponsor.