Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Hope Sisters Reunited

By Sarah Ellery

What a beautiful morning to share with longtime friends. Meet Toni Strole, Hope Sister for 4+ years.  Toni joined My Hope Bag while caring for her mother, Sue, during Sue’s battle with stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. In 2017, Toni contacted My Hope Bag saying she was inspired to help this worthy cause when and where she could, when she wasn’t visiting her mom. Being the wonderful seamstress she is, Toni started off by making the heart pillows which go in each Hope Bag. Within the next year, Toni volunteered with the Hope Sister program which are the beautiful ladies who bring hope and comfort to other breast cancer warriors by visiting with them and presenting them with the lovely Hope Bag filled with wonderful comfort items.

In less than a year, Robyn Zepeda, stage 4 metastatic breast cancer warrior, was at an event where she talked with the event coordinator about volunteering with their organization. She directed her to My Hope Bag. When I met Robyn, it was like “Friend at First Sight”. After talking with her, anyone would have been able to feel her heart for others. Robyn wanted to share her experiences with breast cancer and assure other warriors that they are not alone in their journey. Right away, Robyn wanted to know what she could do to serve others. After introducing the Hope Sister program to Robyn, she not only wanted to participate, but she wanted to run it!! It was wonderful to feel her enthusiasm and love for each woman she met. She started delivering bags and soon met Toni. The two of them clicked and along with delivering bags they also visited Dr.’s offices and shared information on My Hope Bag to encourage more women to visit our services. It was the beginning of a life-long friendship.

Toni moved to Florida 1-1/2 years ago. The three of us have kept this wonderful friendship going through texts, emails, and zoom calls. Seeing Toni this past weekend was like she never left. Our brief but amazing visit reminded us of the power we all hold by following our hearts to serve others. I have heard many women say that going through breast cancer is the worst and the best experience they have ever had to go through. It turns out to be the best because of all the wonderful friends they make while going through something which could otherwise be quite terrifying.

If you are interested in hearing more about My Hope Bag Hope Sister program, please contact Robyn at robyn@myhopebag.org.

 

It’s October once again

By Stephanie Kennelly

It’s October. What once was ghosts, pumpkins, and changing leaves for me, is now also, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My first October in the Breast Cancer Club.

October 1st- I froze. I thought, maybe I could just stick my head in the sand, Halloween would come, and the month would go away.

After retreating to my favorite place, I found the words. Better late than never. And my intention is to help others and contribute to my own healing. So here we go.

Breast cancer awareness for yourself:

I will never stop telling my story. I found my lump. In the shower at age 37, three years before my first mammogram. When I had my first period at age 12, my doctor told me to do breast exams in the shower once a month. Good habits start early, and this useful piece of advice saved my life. Do your breast exams. Have daughters? Teach them. While you’re at it, check in with your whole body- and listen. Then advocate.

Breast cancer awareness for your people:

You know, or will know, someone with breast cancer. Let me tell you, I could not have gotten through it alone. Always feel free to give out my contact information. My purpose is a connection, so I am more than happy to have conversations. Also Firefly Sisterhood, Imerman Angels, and After Breast Cancer Diagnosis provide one-on-one mentorship for free. The first step after the diagnosis? Connect.

Breast cancer awareness for the community:

Pinkwashing is a thing. Organizations profiting off of Pinktober. If you are looking for organizations to support- I have recommendations.

GVL Thrive- https://www.im-not-done-yet.com/gvl-thrive.html (the program I founded!)

Non-Profits that helped me- https://stephanie-kennelly.medium.com/best-breast-cancer…

 

“I NEED TO EXERCISE, BUT HOW?”

Pink Ribbon 360

While studies now conclusively show the need for physical exercise during and after breast cancer treatments, many warriors feel too tired to exercise, scared they’ll hurt themselves, or apprehensive about returning to their previous exercise routine. There is often little to no support provided to warriors to help them with this.

In addition, the emotional trauma they feel throughout their journey is rarely discussed, especially the emotional trauma felt after the treatments have stopped.  Providing emotional support is as important as the physical. Sarah Ellery, the founder of My Hope Bag understood this years ago. My Hope Bag is an incredible organization, helping breast cancer warriors to feel understood, provides resources, and helps them throughout their journey. I am honored to be a part of the My Hope Bag newsletter.

Pink Ribbon 360 provides specialized fitness programs to meet the emotional and physical needs of women with breast cancer. The sessions consist of gentle stretches and exercises, meditation, and self-massage techniques. The founder, Teri Friedland is an occupational therapist, certified breast cancer exercise specialist, and fitness instructor. She saw the need to help provide a bridge between treatments or rehab and recovery…supporting survivors to regain independence and feel confident. Pink Ribbon 360 is a private, one-on-one wellness program.  It can take place in person in the metropolitan Phoenix area or online anywhere throughout the country. Feel free to check out their website at: www.pinkribbon360.com.

Below are a few exercises that focus on shoulder blade mobility and stability, as well as chest expansion and shoulder movements. Exercises may progress to include abdominal and lower body strength, as well as resistance exercises. Always check with your doctor before participating in any exercise programs.

Shoulder Rolls:

  1. Back Rolls: Gently and slowly roll the shoulders up, back, and down. *This doesn’t have to be a large movement to be effective. Feel your shoulder blades and chest muscles moving.
  2. Forward Rolls: Gently and slowly roll the shoulders up forward and around.

Seated Shoulder Slides:

  1. Out/In: Reach your arms in front of you with your arms slightly lower than shoulder height. Inhale and draw your shoulder blades together without arching your back while moving your arms to the sides. Exhale and return to center.
  2. Forward/Back: Reach your arms in front of you again, inhale and slide your shoulder blades apart as you feel your fingertips being pulled away from you. Exhale and return to center.

6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Fun was had by all who attended the My Hope Bag 6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament on September 10, 2021.  Many many thanks to Papago Golf Club tournament sponsors, golfers, volunteers, prize donators, and creative minds. It truly does take a village to organize and run an event like this one.

95 golfers donned the beautiful Papago Golf Course “set in the heart of Papago Park, surrounded by the native desert landscape and the picturesque Papago Buttes”. As well, Papago was recently chosen as the home of the men’s and women’s Arizona State University golf team, some of whom golfed in My Hope Bag’s 6th annual charity golf tournament.

So many comments were heard about the beautiful course and the wonderful Papago staff who were available throughout the day. Thank you, Daryl Crawford, and your wonderful Papago crew.

Thank you to Brad Butler, designer of the beautiful Booby Putter.  Brad was available throughout the tournament near the putting green for golfers to test the putter themselves. Brad then donated one of his putters to the tournament honoring his wife who is a breast cancer survivor and for whom he designed the putter.

Morgan Reimler from BackSwing Golf Events added to memories made with a “beat the pro” hole. Golfers had a great time and are hoping we invite BackSwing back to our next golf event.

The awards banquet helped remind all who were present why we have this tournament. Patty Nix spoke about what she went through during her breast cancer journey and what My Hope Bag means to her. Leanne Titus shared how her family came together and rallied around her sister Alissa Serignese when Alissa was experiencing her breast cancer journey. Alissa knows she couldn’t have made it with her own “village”. Patty and Alissa, as well as Leanne, are now volunteers for My Hope Bag wanting to “pay it forward” to women currently battling breast cancer.

A special thank you to all who donated in any way to help us meet our goal. My Hope Bag’s financial goal for this event was to double the net income from the last golf tournament which was $10,000. We are currently $500 short of that goal. Our emcee for the golf tournament, Jarrett Ransom, shared a goal of $25,000. The monies from this event will be going to the My Hope Bag’s Benevolence fund. These funds help breast cancer women with medical co-pays, monthly bills, groceries, gas for treatments, and any other hardship needs as our funds allow.

You can still donate to this effort. Please help us meet our original goal of $20,000. If you can stretch a bit, we can meet the goal of $25,000. This will be an amazing addition to the already met goal. You can donate in honor or in memory of a breast cancer warrior you know. You can do this at https://www.myhopebag.org/donate/.

Thank you all again.  Couldn’t make it this year?  Watch for information on next year’s tournament.

Hope Is In The Bag

     

By Sarah Ellery and Sally Marks

Published in the Jewish News, September 13, 2021

A friend of mine has breast cancer. She is one of many women I’ve known who have suffered from this disease. Fortunately, it was caught in time, and with the aggressive treatment, she will survive.

Many are not so lucky.

Some 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Those are frightening statistics. However, in the Jewish community, the statistics indicate a gloomier scenario. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage (Eastern European descent) are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer due to the high prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) inherited gene mutations. This type of breast cancer attacks younger women and is more deadly than the breast cancer found in older women. Many develop this cancer before the age of 40, which is the recommended age for a baseline mammogram.

That is one reason even young women, especially young, Jewish women, should learn how to do a self-breast exam and schedule an annual exam with their obstetrician/gynecologist. Those with Ashkenazi heritage should be even more vigilant. Mothers in our community are advised to tell their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters of this risk.

Detecting breast cancer when it is early in the process is optimal. However, women with breast cancer (regardless of age or ancestral heritage) need support. Fortunately a local non-profit, My Hope Bag can help.

When diagnosed with breast cancer, one may have a plethora of thoughts from “who will take care of my children” to “how will we pay for all the treatments”? Those are normal thoughts but having an annual mammogram can help reduce one’s probability of assuming the disease. A mammogram is like an X-ray of the breast. It can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor. Many are diagnosed two to three years into the tumor’s growth.  What could have been a lighter diagnosis may be more severe because of a missed mammogram.

After diagnosis, questions explode regarding what to do next. There are many nonprofits that can help with specific areas of concern My Hope Bag is an organization that directs the newly diagnosed breast cancer warrior (bc warrior) to My Hope Bag’s extensive resource guide. The bc warrior is visited by a My Hope Bag “Hope Sister” who engages in conversation regarding the bc warrior’s diagnosis and needs. The Hope Sister gifts the bc warrior with a beautiful pink tote bag filled with many comfort items including the resource guide. The bc warrior has a friend for life and the Hope Sister keeps in touch until the bc warrior has completed her treatments. Strong bonds are formed from these friendships.  Many of the breast cancer warriors wish to “pay it forward” and become volunteers themselves.

During her treatments, the bc warrior may contact My Hope Bag for needs including groceries, gas cards to assist with getting to treatments, medical co-pays, and even family outings when available. My Hope Bag also provides the cost of a screening mammogram for those who qualify. A future goal of My Hope Bag is to open a respite center for those going through breast cancer treatments to have a place to relax, sip on coffee or tea, and visit with other survivors in the non-intimidating comfort of those with whom they can relate.

Whether you received a breast cancer diagnosis, know someone with breast cancer, or are simply someone who wants to donate funds or become a sponsor, there are many ways to help. My Hope Bag invites you to view their website, www.myhopebag.org, or write to sarah@myhopebag.org, for further information or to request a Hope Bag.