The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) will award its annual Survivor Circle grants to two San Diego–based cancer support charities: Cancer Angels of San Diego and The Seany Foundation. Each organization will receive an $8,500 grant to support its programs for those who have been affected by cancer and will be recognized during ASTRO’s Annual Meeting, on September 24–27 in San Diego.
Brian D. Kavanagh, MD, MPH, FASTRO
“The Survivor Circle Grant Program is ASTRO’s way of recognizing the great work that these nonprofit organizations do to support cancer patients and their families,” said ASTRO President Brian D. Kavanagh, MD, MPH, FASTRO. “We are honored to give back to the organizations that work in the communities where we hold our Annual Meeting. This year’s grantees—the Cancer Angels of San Diego and The Seany Foundation—are eminently worthy recipients.”
Cancer Angels of San Diego
Cancer Angels of San Diego was founded in 2007, after Founder and President Eve Beutler met a single mother with stage IV breast cancer who was having trouble making rent while she was receiving treatment. After raising $33,000 for the patient through a fundraising event, Ms. Beutler decided to start a nonprofit aimed at providing financial assistance to stage IV cancer patients for necessities that health insurance doesn’t cover, such as rent or mortgage payments, groceries, and gas.
“We are beyond thrilled to receive ASTRO’s Survivor Circle grant,” said Ms. Beutler. “This grant will help us get school supplies and clothing for children whose parents are battling cancer and would not be able to afford back-to-school shopping otherwise.”
Without our help, most of our clients would be homeless. We have gotten many families that were previously living in their cars into homes.— Eve Beutler
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Every month, Cancer Angels of San Diego pays for the rent or mortgage payments, plus a grocery gift card and gas gift card, for between 25 and 30 San Diego County families, many of whom are headed by single mothers battling stage IV cancer. The nonprofit reassesses the families’ caseloads monthly and offers ongoing financial assistance, if needed. Since Cancer Angels of San Diego is run entirely by volunteers, it has no administrative costs, and every dollar goes toward helping the hundreds of patients and their families it supports each year.
Ms. Beutler said many of the patients they work with were middle-class before their diagnoses—but not being able to work and not having long-term disability insurance has created financial devastation for these families. “Without our help, most of our clients would be homeless,” she said. “We have gotten many families that were previously living in their cars into homes.”
Ms. Beutler hopes the ASTRO grant will help bring attention to this problem. “We want to build an awareness that this is happening in every community. Maybe someone will read about this and want to start a Cancer Angels in [his or her] own town.”
The Seany Foundation
The Seany Foundation’s mission is to fund meaningful projects that enhance the lives of children and families affected by cancer, mainly through day, overnight, and weekend camps designed for pediatric cancer patients and their siblings; children of cancer patients; or children who have lost a family member to cancer.
“Cancer doesn’t just suddenly stop one day,” said Bernard Mauricia, Director of Development for The Seany Foundation. “Families continue to feel the toll that cancer takes on them for years. Our goal through our camps is to bring joy back into these children’s lives and to allow them to experience a sense of normalcy they likely haven’t felt since before their cancer diagnoses.”
The organization’s Chief Executive Officer and his wife founded The Seany Foundation in 2006 to honor their son, Sean Robins, who passed away after battling Ewing sarcoma. Its initial goal was to fund pediatric cancer research, but the foundation now focuses on projects that help kids cope with cancer.
Cancer doesn’t just suddenly stop one day. Families continue to feel the toll that cancer takes on them for years.— Bernard Mauricia
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Four years ago, The Seany Foundation took over operational control of its camps from the American Cancer Society, which began the program in 1983. Known as Seany’s Camp Reach for the Sky, they are free camps for kids with cancer and their siblings. There are three sessions every summer in Southern California—one for children with cancer; one for siblings of children with cancer; and a 1-day camp for both pediatric cancer patients and their siblings. They also host weekend camps for teen patients, survivors, and siblings, as well as camps for families with a parent with cancer and families who have lost a parent or child to cancer.
With the grant from ASTRO, The Seany Foundation will be able to cover the cost of 12 campers to attend its weeklong overnight camp, Resident Oncology Camp, for children aged 8 to 17 who have cancer or are cancer survivors. Due to the need for round-the-clock medical equipment and care at this camp, its annual cost is $65,400.
The Seany Foundation also hopes to expand support of other patient care projects, such as Art from the Heart, an annual art show for children with cancer and their siblings held at Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego, with the help of the ASTRO grant.
“Pediatric cancer survivorship rates are going up, which means it’s important to put resources toward helping kids deal with their new realities of living with cancer,” said Mr. Mauricia. “This grant from ASTRO will help us fund more programs and support a greater number of kids and their families—increasing the long-term impact of our work.”