Stories from the Frontlines



“First DJF deepened my marred-by-cancer marriage by honoring my husband as a caregiver, giving us tools to strengthen our partnership, and introducing us to a new, wonderful community of warrior couples through Breathe Now. Then, through working with Lifelist warriors, DJF deepened my experience with cancer in a meaningful way. I don’t consider my cancer a blessing, but I am grateful that DJF is a part of this chapter and very glad to have found a role.” – Kara | Breathe Now Wellness Retreat Participant and DJF Advocate

It may be difficult to know exactly the impact you are having when you donate to a small organization with a giant mission like Dear Jack. It is because of amazing people like you why we are able to provide hope, fulfill dreams, and offer a community of those who ‘get it’ for adolescent and young adults impacted by cancer. With close to two weeks remaining in the Dear Jack 100k Challenge campaign, you have once again stepped up and raised your voices for our mission. And, here is one (of many) reasons why your contributions big and small matter to us and the warriors we serve through our programs and partnerships.

Kara’s cancer journey began in August of 2014 when she was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer at 32-yrs-old. Since then, she’s endured 24 chemotherapy treatments, six surgeries, and a recurrence that was diagnosed in January 2016. Although she is currently just over a year in complete remission, she must still get routine scans and check-ups to ensure she remains in good health.

We first met Kara when she and her husband Mike joined us for our inaugural Breathe Now Retreat hosted in beautiful Laguna, California. Kara’s warm smile and positive outlook made her a joy for all of us to be around, so when we began looking for an advocate to help us serve our warriors in the Boston area, Kara immediately came to mind. Not only does she understand what it’s like to be a young adult facing a cancer diagnosis, but she is extremely motivated to ensure others are given as many opportunities as possible to make their own journeys more tolerable.

Recently, Kara met up with one of our new LifeList Warriors, 23 yr old Katie McDonough, who was put on hospice care in the face of a relapse with ovarian cancer and no further treatment options. Kara has worked tirelessly, visiting Katie in the hospital, sending her texts, encouraging and commiserating with her, and helping us to do what we can to get Katie’s LifeList requests accomplished, including going above and beyond by adding a night’s stay to her spa day request and offering up her mom’s home for a possible Florida trip.

Our thoughtfully selected volunteer advocates, like Kara, are integral to our mission. They are the Dear Jack touchstone to the patients we serve. Your donations help us not only fulfill LifeList requests and offer Breathe Now experiences to survivor couples, but also ensure our adolescent and young adult LifeList patients each have a trusted advocate they can count on. From all of us here at Dear Jack, thank you for being part of our community who makes our mission possible.