Tag Archives: cancer

Roanoke Valley Reads

Blue Ridge Literacy (BRL) will host events throughout the month around this year’s Roanoke Valley Reads “Big Reads” selection, When Breath Becomes Air, by Dr. Paul Kalinithi. The thought-provoking book is a personal journal following a diagnosis of terminal cancer. The community-wide gatherings are free and open to the public.

On October 12 at 7pm, there will be panel of leading religious leaders (Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic) from throughout the area at Hollins University Chapel who will share their respective faith tradition’s understanding of and practices in dealing with death and dying.

Members of the regional retirement community will have the opportunity to participate in a book review and discussion on When Breath Becomes Air on October 18 at 2pm at Richfield. Participating book clubs include Richfield, Brandon Oaks, The Glebe, Pheasant Ridge, Friendship, and several others. This discussion will include how the book speaks to their individual understanding of death and informs the meaning of life.

On November 1 at 7pm, Dr. Thomas Milam, a psychiatrist with Carilion, and chaplains from two area hospices will be joined by hospice patients, discussing death and dying from a front-line and first-hand perspective in the auditorium at the downtown Roanoke library.

On November 3, the Taubman Museum will host a discussion on “Death and the Medical Community.” This panel will talk about how a physician’s humanity and mortality informs their profession. Here, the medical community including students of Jefferson College and Virginia Tech-Carilion Medical School, will discuss the challenge of facing death, both personally and professionally.

There will also be a free showing of the film, WIT, based on the award-winning play of the same name, at the Community High School on November 13 at 7pm. The film concerns the experiences, observations, and relationships of a college professor who is dying of cancer. Go to www.roanokevalleyreads.com for details on upcoming events and how you can get involved!

Wishing for Hope– A Little Girl and Her Unicorn

Claire Cordell, a 4-year-old girl battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, received a gift from Unbridled Change on Saturday, May 21 that every child longs for– a magical unicorn.

Unbridled Change is a nonprofit Equine Assisted Therapy center in Boones Mill, Virginia. They provide interactive mental health therapy and Equine Assisted learning for families and veterans. Unbridled Change first heard about Claire’s wish from an email from her mother. Kimberly Cordell reached out to Michelle Holling-Brooks, Founder and Executive Director of Unbridled Change, to see if they could help grant this special wish. Claire was in the middle of treatment for her rare cancer when they received the anticipated response.

Claire began her heroic fight with cancer in September 2015. Her Ewing’s Sarcoma was growing off her nasal clavicle bone and wrapping around her brain stem. Her wish was granted in March 2016 after many efforts to make her wish perfect. The little girl described a specific pink unicorn that lived in the forest with many fairies. She recalled the unicorn’s name to be Sparkle Toes, because of its memorable pink,sparkling hooves.

During her explanation of her wish to Michelle, Claire asked, “Do you know how to talk to the fairies that know unicorns? If you do, can you ask them to use their magic in their horns to take the cancer ball out of my head?”

The task of granting this wish required creativity from many helping hands. They selected a pony named Puzzle to serve as Sparkle Toes. Puzzle was dyed head-to-toe with hot pink non-toxic chemical free semi-permanent dye that a local organic salon, Creekside Salon, helped them find. After 16 bottles of dye, eight bottle of spray dye for the mane and tail, one bottle of glitter for the hooves, and of course the magical horn, Puzzle was transformed into Sparkle Toes!

image3When the day came for Sparkle Toes to meet Claire, she received incredible news from her doctor. The 4-year-old’s cancer was gone and the treatments had worked to heal her back to health. Claire was convinced that Sparkle Toes must have healed her with its magical horn. The unicorn walked into the arena where Claire was patiently waiting and her face lit up with joy.

“Wow, you do know Sparkle Toes! But be careful. Don’t touch her horn, if you do she will lose her magic and not be able to help other people get better and be happy too!” Claire said, with a smile on her face.

Claire spent the next 30 minutes riding Sparkle Toes and talking to the unicorn about her journey with cancer. She knew that Sparkle Toes was going to help more people with its healing horn and never lost her smile during the whole ride. Claire thanked Unbridled Change with her dazzling spirit and everyone else that granted her one special wish.

Unbridled Change’s mission is to help people overcome obstacles that may come up in their lives. Michelle told the family to not use Claire’s official wish on them.

“I love my job, the smiles and hugs we received today from Claire and her family will be with me and our staff for the rest of our lives!” stated Holling-Brooks.

Unbridled Change wanted to do this wish for the little girl because of the complications she has faced in life with cancer. They didn’t receive any compensation for completing her wish and they simply wanted to help Claire overcome trauma. The work they do for people is made possible by the community and local foundations. For those seeking more information about Unbridled Change and their programs can visit www.UnbridledChange.org.

Written by Stacy Shrader

Giving Back: Love Your Melon

Love Your Melon was founded in October 2012, with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Two college sophomores, Zach and Brian, set out to fulfill their mission of improving the lives of these children, traveling from coast to coast with hats in hand.
Not only does Love Your Melon provide hats for patients, they also sell them (along with other items) to the public. Through funding from product sales, they can continue to give hats to children newly diagnosed each year in addition to the 45,000 to which they have already committed.
Also, fifty percent of the net proceeds from their sales go to the Pinky Swear Foundation (providing immediate support for children battling cancer) and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer (to fund research initiatives to beat childhood cancer completely).
In order to reach their goals, Love Your Melon has expanded significantly in the last few years. They now include a network of college students across the nation called Love Your Melon Ambassadors. To date, more than 2,500 college students at over 225 different schools have signed on to sell and donate hats. Locally, Kinzie Trompak began a chapter at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2015.
IMG_8888For Kinzie, the desire to help children battle this disease went beyond sending a check to an organization. It was about getting involved personally and creating a bond when people needed it the most.
“It is really rewarding to be able to go and do donation events at hospitals,” she explains. “It gives you the opportunity to put a face to the cause.”
Kinzie’s initiative to establish a chapter at Virginia Tech was the first big step to help children in our area battling cancer. However, it is important that we get behind her and show that we, as a community, are part of their team.
“Readers can help by purchasing anything on the Love Your Melon website and crediting the Virginia Tech campus,” she says. “We are currently the only campus in Central and Southwest Virginia that participates in the Love Your Melon Ambassadors program.”
Visit www.loveyourmelon.com to check out their selection of beanies, caps, shirts, and accessories. Their beanies are perfect for the remainder of winter, and their shirts will make a great addition to your summer wardrobe so you can love your melon throughout the year!

Love Your Melon

Some of the most important people in this world are those that go out of their way to help children in need. That’s why we want to recognize the amazing team at Love Your Melon.

Brian_Zach_Superheroes_1280x500_900pxFounded by two friends, Zach and Brian, Love Your Melon has been on a mission to improve the lives of children battling cancer since October 22, 2012. It was founded on the simple concept of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. They also sell hats, shirts, and accessories committing fifty percent of net proceeds on every Love Your Melon product sold to the Pinky Swear Foundation and CureSearch.

“On December 18, 2012, we got to go to our first hospital donation event and it was then that we knew how cool this idea was. Seeing the smiles on the kids faces that day was incredible so we kept making the hats,” says co-founder, Zach.

To date, more than 2,500 college students from over 225 different schools across the nation have signed on as ambassadors to sell and donate hats. This includes a group of students at Virginia Tech.

You can help too! Visit www.loveyourmelon.com for more information or to purchase a hat, shirt, or accessory of your own. Portions of the proceeds from your purchase will go to help cancer research initiatives and provide immediate support for families impacted by childhood cancer.