Oh What A Year...
We truly could not have asked for a more successful, exciting year here at TCCF and wanted to share all the news and thank each and every one of you who have continued to support our life saving mission to fund cutting edge research for this woefully underfunded, deadly disease of MBC as quickly and intelligently as possible.
Not only did we make national news this year, being featured on the Today Show for our #Reason4FreezinMBC campaign, we were also featured on ESPN twice and many other shows with millions of viewers calling much needed awareness and attention to the importance of this mission and educating so many! We had an epic party at The Cancer Beat for over 600 with The Wailers who were just unreal - the night was unforgettable!
With our final tallies in for the year, after the match, we are able to put over 1 million dollars DIRECTLY into the labs of the top researchers in this field right now. That is no small thing. They have projects waiting for this money and ready to roll. We are moving the needle - real time! See below for our exact numbers this year and the valuable and much needed financial assistance local fundraisers were able to provide to people in their communities who have been financially devastated by MBC but still need to eat, pay for heat, rent and diapers.
This is all particularly important to me that we accomplished this now as I will be taking a big step back for awhile undergoing an experimental, but necessary, treatment immediately that may have me rather incapacitated for some time. Fortunately TCCF will continue and we have so many great organizations and individuals who are doing their own fundraisers and sending us the money so we can keep funding our mission while taking a bit of pause in our active events for right now. And donations are always easy and appreciated!
I was hospitalized last week for some complications and learned the cancer spread again to the brain and central nervous system and this needs to be handled ASAP. However, I am so lucky to once again have the most cutting edge new technology available to me within 2 hours of home. MSKCC has the only proton radiation treatment for this in the world and it just came out this year. Still in trial, but it is available to me in NJ - just two hours from home. I am so grateful and feel even more passionate than ever that we keep funding research as all 4 treatments I've had this year literally just become available within months before I needed them. A bit too close for comfort in this kick the can game for me - but thank god with each huge challenge I've gotten hit with there has been a possible miracle option that just literally didn't exist months before. It is quite incredible.
So, it sounds like this one may be pretty rough - along with other ongoing treatments - and I am so grateful for the outpouring of support in our community and from my family to help me through it. I am so lucky and blessed to have the resources and support so many do not in the very worst of situations like this. To be unable to work, cook, or even drive your kids can be devastating and requires huge assistance that we are so lucky to have. I am going into it with the absolute best preparation, attitude and support possible. I will go through anything to get even one more minute here of this beautiful life we have and for my precious kids and family but I am going for much more than minutes - I am in this for the long haul. Warrior mode is activated and I'll be checking in and keeping things updated and the energy going on TCCF as much as I am able. Thank you all so much for your ongoing and endless support of the TCCF mission, my journey, and truly felt prayers and well wishes. They mean the world and I hold them close to my heart for so much needed strength. Thank you.
$1,032,000 (after match to MBC research and $12,700 in MBC Angel Funds)
($250,000/$500,000 after match) given to Dr. Nikhil Wagle's Lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
($250,000/$500,000 after match) given to Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty's Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
16k to Metavivor as part of the #Reason4FreezinMBC Campaign
16k to BCRF as part of the #Reason4FreezinMBC Campaign
$8500 in MBC Angel Funds to Ann's Place for Chandelle Albert Fund
$3500 in MBC Angel Funds To Norma Pfriem for Beth Davis Fund
$700 in MBC Angel Funds to Genesis Foundation for Beth Calabotta Fund
*all Angel Funds are taken out of event proceeds prior to donation finals
Here is the Outside The Lines Segment that aired live today, in case you missed it.
and... here is a longer segment they were kind enough to film after the show which will go out across their other platforms and features the Bake It Happen campaign! Thank you so much to Andy Tennant, Jeremy Schaap, and the entire ESPN crew who made me feel so welcome and gave us this valuable airtime to get the message out about funding for metastatic breast cancer!
Who Inspires You?
This Wednesday, I will have the incredible opportunity to be featured on the show Outside The Lines (OTL) on ESPN around 120pm. No one is more shocked than I am to be featured on a sports channel, but my old D1 soccer connections (barely) qualify me as an "athlete" and we're running with that (literally). This show features inspirational sports related stories and my old soccer buddy Andy Tennant, captain of the Men' team when I co-captained the Women's, is kindly responsible for giving me this amazing opportunity to shed more (very much needed) light on MBC during breast cancer awareness month.
So I thought I would share a story about a recent inspiration of mine. This weekend, I was inspired by someone I have never met and who is no longer with us. My friend Shari's mom Judy is the inspiration behind the amazing Bake It Happen campaign and this is our 3rd year as the proud beneficiaries. Between sports games and her homecoming dance, my daughter Bella and I baked up one of the recipes (seen above - chocolate chip banana bread). These recipes aren't too complicated, but they're not basic either - so they are a bit of a challenge for someone like me for whom baking does not come naturally and who is pretty tired these days. However, as we made our gluten free substitutions (Bella has celiac) and coated the chocolate chips so they wouldn't sink, following every instruction to the letter - I had the chance to just think about Judy and what this all meant. Shari's words kept running through my head "My mom loved to bake and even toward the end with MBC she always had baked goods and food on the table to share with loved ones." Well, coming off a tough week of chemo - where I'm sometimes too tired to do anything - baking so much as frosted ice for others feels downright heroic never mind these incredible recipes Judy was whipping up. I just kept thinking of her and how amazing it is that she shared her love in this way, with those in her life, even near the end. My oven mitts go off to you Judy. The lessons I learned from her are the following: 1. We can always do more than we think. 2. There are many ways we can share our love with others. 3. We all have unique gifts and talents to give to the world, no matter what our situation. I believe we are each born into this life to make the world a better place in some way with our presence. Our challenge is to discover our own special way of doing that and Judy certainly found hers. But the really cool thing is, Judy had no idea how much she was inspiring her daughters just by naturally sharing her gifts and doing what she loved. She was just baking and sharing in her kitchen. She had no idea that this random woman (me - and so many others) would spend the weekend thinking about and being inspired by her. She was just doing what she loved. Yet, here we are - carrying on her legacy. It's kind of mind blowing when you think about it. You never ever know who you are inspiring just by being you and sharing your unique gifts with the world.
Thank you Judy for making the world a sweeter place. Thank you to her daughters Shari and Stacy for sharing her story and recipes with all of us. I plan to share Judy's story on ESPN tomorrow. I bet if someone told her that she would be talked about on ESPN for her baking, in her kitchen, all those years ago - she would have thought they were crazy. Isn't life just awesome that way? Always full of sweet surprises :). Happy Baking and tune in if you can!
From the BIH team:
Here is the link to the four delicious recipes featured in the campaign this year: https://www.bakeithappen.net/recipe
Remember, throughout the month of October, feel free to bake away and share these baked goods with the people in your life (coworkers, friends, families, teachers, etc). Every time you upload a photo of your bake it happen experience, with #bakeithappen, $5 will automatically get donated to The Cancer Couch Foundation our benefitting charity!!!
DON’T FORGET, we've added a DONATE button to our website! 100% of the monies raised will then get DOUBLED and be used to directly fund Metastatic Breast Cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering and The Dana Farber Institute.https://www.bakeithappen.net/donate.
Has raising money been any easier and more delicious than that?
It's Time To Bake It Happen!!!
Ok friends, it is that time of year again to do the easiest, tastiest thing possible to help fund a cure for metastatic breast cancer (MBC)! Two amazing sisters, Shari and Stacy, started Bake It Happen with their mom's recipes to keep her memory and passion for cooking alive and to try tp help fund research for the disease that took her life. After Shari and I met and became fast friends through a breast cancer program three years ago, they have decided to put these funds into The Cancer Couch Foundation to specifically focus on MBC and we could not be more honored! They trust and know that our money (100%) goes to cutting edge labs (at Dana-Farber and MSKCC) who only focus on MBC and all funds will be anonymously MATCHED! I don't (and can't right now) do walks or runs or even nights out for breast cancer events because of my current treatment but this, even I can do. This weekend my daughter and I will pick a recipe from their website, make it gluten free - because she has celiac, and post a picture of our goodies with the #bakeithappen on social media and THAT IS IT! $5 gets donated to TCCF!! It is that easy!! You can adjust them however you need to fit your dietary needs!
Can't Bake? Donate! They make that so easy too! It all goes toward this life saving campaign!
To learn more about this awesome campaign you can see us on this WPIX clip from last year! Thank you for baking everyone - this only goes through October so let's all try to bake or donate this weekend before Halloween festivities kick in!
Judy, their mom, loved to share her food - so consider surprising a neighbor, teacher, loved one, or someone you know who could just use some cheering up - with a box of this yummy goodwill!
We are also so grateful to partners Taste Buds Kitchen - as they are featuring Bake It Happen themed classes nationwide! If you live near any of these or have friends who do - let them know:
TBK East Greenwich, RI – October 19
TBK Bannockburn, IL – October 19
TBK Apex, NC – October 19 & 24
TBK Leawood, KS – October 20
TBK Southlake, TX – October 26
TBK Plano, TX – October 26
I Will Never Give Up The Fight...
This unexpected bucket-list moment of being asked to come up and sing on stage with The Wailers was just the absolute icing on the cake of such an amazing night. The love and generosity of all 600+ people in the room was palpable. You came. You heard. You donated. Most importantly, you had fun. Metastatic breast cancer continues to claim the lives of over 42,000 Americans each year. 116 men and women die from this disease in the US every single day. Although we are starting to make progress and have more and more treatments coming available, they tend to not work for very long and the prognosis for those of us with Stage 4 breast cancer, has not changed in decades - 2-3 years. That is why we can not give up the fight to get more research funding put toward MBC!!
Thank you all so much for helping The Cancer Couch move this needle and fund critical, life-saving research! The dust is still settling on the event as both donations and expenses are still coming in but it looks like we are around our annual goal of raising about 250k at this event - which will be matched to 500k! That is enough to fund two studies and make an actual difference real time for this disease. We fund the top MBC labs - at Dana-Farber and MSKCC so you can trust where your donation is going and that it will be put to the BEST use ASAP!
I will be making my site visits to these labs in November to deliver the checks personally, meet everyone in the lab, and choose the projects we fund for next year (with the advisement of our medical research board). Cancer doesn't take a day off - so we can't either! Thank you so much for your support. As I said at the event, I am just the one holding the flashlight to shine on this need but you are all the ones in the light making the difference to save lives and permanently change the landscape for anyone who gets breast cancer.
Onto our next campaign which is already in full swing and you'll be hearing more about Bake It Happen - it is so easy! Just Bake one of their recipes, take a pic, post it on social media and tag them #bakeithappen and $5 will be donated to TCCF - just like that!!! If you don't have social media you can email them - all info on their website!! These two amazing sisters, Shari and Stacy, started this campaign to honor their mom Judy who died from MBC. TCCF is the lucky partner and recipient of this awesome and tasty campaign!
And...I'm dusting off my old soccer cleats to be featured on ESPN on October 23rd for breast cancer awareness month so tune in! More info to come!!!
Get up. Stand Up. Get your tickets now for The Cancer Beat! If you recognize those lyrics, and are a Bob Marley fan, you will definitely want to Stand Up (and with) those of us with metastatic breast cancer - on October 5th 630-11pm at The Warehouse in Fairfield CT for the 4th Annual Cancer Beat featuring the iconic reggae sounds of none other than ... The Wailers!
The past three Cancer Beat's have been sold out, smashing successes - each one raising a quarter of a million dollars! This is our main annual event and has helped us put over 2 million into MBC research. These funds have been put to incredible use and have led to our contributing to 3 groundbreaking published research papers in just three and a half years!
The incredible Cancer Beat committee is working hard to ensure this is the best Cancer Beat yet, but we need your support and good vibes to do that. What can you do? Easy! Three Little Birds told me that this link is now live to purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or place an ad! Any support is so appreciated and every dollar is matched and goes straight to the research!!
We need to keep these researchers pumping out studies on MBC treatment as fast as we can. I recently started a new chemo/immunotherapy regimen that was approved for Triple Negative MBC in March 2019. The last trial I was on worked for 9 months - just long enough to get me to this treatment - but we all need the "next great thing" to keep coming out and there is only one way to make that happen - by funding research for MBC! So... No Woman No Cry - you can make a difference by supporting this event!
We hope to see you there - or in the ad book or sponsor list! Here is a sizzle reel from last year's event in case you missed it - to give you just a sample of this awesome night!
Remember ... Every Little Thing Is Gonna be Alright!
Thank you all so much for your support!!
One Love, Rebecca
It has been an exciting and very busy few weeks since our #Reason4FreezinMBC campaign officially went live and was launched on the Today Show - complete with all 4 anchors taking the challenge live on air (dressed up like a gospel choir) and then graciously challenging 16 other celebs to join in - including Jimmy Fallon!!
If you overslept, missed it, totally forgot to set your DVR to tape it, or have been living under a rock since May - here is a link to the segment !!
It is so easy to do this challenge and we have had an awesome response already - it is spreading around the country and beyond actually! However, even though so many awesome teams and adorable funny and fun groups of friends have done it and are passing it on - please please remember that this is a fundraising campaign and don't forget to donate and ask others to when you challenge them at www.reason4freezinmbc.org!! Raising awareness of the lack of funding of metastatic breast cancer is fantastic but it does not save lives. Donations do! So...even if you're feeling a little shy and not up for posting a video of yourself eating something cold HANDSFREE as fast as you can (which is the funny part!) you can still help us out by just donating and challenging 4 friends to do the same!
Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to do any part of this! Please take the challenge and/or just donate and nominate four others!
Together we can put the freeze on MBC!!
The Cancer Couch is going live on the Today Show couch June 3rd - this Monday - on the 9am hour to help us launch an exciting new social media campaign! Set your DVR now or put it in your calendar to watch live, but let's make sure we get those ratings up and show NBC and the Today Show how important this mission is and how much we appreciate them shining a light on Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) by TUNING in and sharing this with everyone you know!
After having so much success with our live scoops challenges over the past few years - our amazingly brilliant and hardworking scoops team (Lisa, Paula, Vicki, & Vivian) was stretched to the max trying to keep up with all that scoops eating enthusiasm and so they decided to make a super fun and creative social media campaign out of it! They have been working literally around the clock to pull this incredible campaign together to make it easy, fun and convenient for EVERYONE to get involved, support, donate, and raise money for MBC! Introducing ... (do a drum roll in your mind please) ... the #Reason4FreezinMBC campaign:
Check out the website to see our ORIGIN VIDEO and to watch others doing the challenge! www.reason4freezinmbc.org
Here's how to help "Put The Freeze On MBC" ... it's SO easy:
1. Create a video of yourself eating anything cold... HANDS FREE!
(A scoop of a frozen smoothie bowl is our healthy favorite, but it could be ice cream or even ice chips!)
2. Dedicate it to someone "My reason for freezin is..."
(Eat it as fast you as you can - BRAINFREEZE!) Nominate 4 friends to do the challenge (in honor of stage 4).
3. Tag #Reason4FreezinMBC @Reason4FreezinMBC and share on social media (With website link!)
(or just email friends to pass it on and email us your video Mail@Reason4FreezinMBC.org)
4. Click here to donate to this campaign! (Brainfreeze or not!)
Thank you so much for doing your part to support our mission to raise desperately needed funds for MBC. We are so hopeful that once people realize how underfunded MBC is, and how desperately people like me need that next trial to come out, that this campaign will raise tons of money for MBC. We want to infuse not just the two amazing labs that we fund here at The Cancer Couch, but as many MBC labs as possible. So, we decided to share the funds from this campaign with two other beneficiaries as well - The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Metastatic Research Initiative and Metavivor - with 100% of the funds going to MBC research! Together we are stronger and together we can "Put The Freeze on MBC!"
Watch the Today Show on Monday and please take the challenge and pass it on to everyone you know!
While it has certainly been a minute since I've been able to come up for air long enough to write here, please know that your donations to The Cancer Couch have been put to the most effective work possible again this year. The foundation has been churning away working tirelessly on our mission to make MBC a chronic, not deadly, disease! Our Christmas gifts came early this year in that we were stunned and humbled to learn that research WE helped fund resulted in two published papers that came out in the same week! In cancer research time that is absolute lighting speed and these are prestigious publications! Merry Christmas to all of us!!! The publications are featured at the bottom of this page for anyone interested!!
In other news, I remain infinitely grateful to be here to celebrate my 3rd Christmas with cancer with my friends and family. As of this past summer, the last trial I had been on stopped working and my cancer spread quickly throughout my body and into my brain. I actually didn't know if I would even be here this holiday season at the rate it was progressing or if I'd be well enough to enjoy it. However, I am beyond thrilled to share that I am in my fifth month of an absolutely miraculous trial at MSKCC that is still working! It is a drug called Larotrectinib and it works on the NTRK fusion mutation which we found I had through genomic sequencing testing. Less than 1% of cancer tumors have this mutation and it is seen even less frequently in breast cancer, so to say I hit the genetic lottery is an understatement. Not only is this targeted medicine effective - I also have virtually no side effects. This is the hope and future of cancer, but this drug only helps a limited number of people. To find this kind of treatment for others requires much more funding and investigation. That is why we fund research to keep finding meds like this for the next 1%, 5-10% and 20-30%. Little by little we will chip away at these mutations and resistances until we overpower the cancer with precision medicine and immunotherapy for all.
Our donations are outlined on our financial page under the heading "Foundation" but to shorthand it: We were able to give $300,000 to research which was matched to $600,000 in 2018 and we donated $5600 to Angel Funds for MBC patients in financial need. That brings the total impact of this foundation over not even 3 years to ...(drum roll please) 2.3 million put into MBC research and $23,000 to Angel Funds! WOW!
A huge thank you to all of you who help through any kind of support or donations. The support is breathtaking and has already moved the needle with these two major publications coming out in this short time frame that will launch even more extensive studies. Thank you to all who participated in another hugely successful and insanely fun Cancer Beat, the multiple scoops challenges, the Beth Calabotta Swim challenge, many other smaller fundraisers that took place throughout the country and fellow MBC patient Susan Melia put together an amazing "Living Beyond Pink" event in November that brought in over 20k! The Cheshire and Fairfield Mombies (started by Terry Davis) are still dancing their way to research funds. The Bake It Happen campaign, led by sisters Shari Brooks and Stacy Pagan, brought in over $53,000 after the match! Thank you thank you thank you. You are saving countless future lives and families from the devastation of this disease! Someone somewhere funded the first idea of the research and trial that is now saving my life and I know we are doing the same for so many someone elses down the road - maybe even one of you or someone you love!
Congratulations to our incredibly bright and hard-working researchers, their teams, and every one of you who helped fund this groundbreaking work! I was going to make a very lame attempt (with the help of my brilliant research advisors) to update our donors on the research progress you have all funded - and then they went and got published and took that chore off my plate!!! A million thousand thank yous and may your holidays and upcoming year be filled with gratitude, joy, love, happiness and health.
Dr. Nikhil Wagle from Dana-Farber was published in Nature Genetics:
Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty was published in Cancer Cell:
Have a wonderful Christmas for those who celebrate and the happiest 2019!!!
Yes, it's that time of year. Breast cancer awareness month is upon us and as someone who will ALWAYS have breast cancer and who is completely dependent on new research and treatment to stay alive - I implore you to choose wisely and thoughtfully when supporting a breast cancer cause this month. If you are looking for a perfect way to support the cause, I can offer you the cliff notes version here of a campaign that is easy, fun and effective as ALL of the proceeds go directly to The Cancer Couch Foundation. The Bake It Happen campaign was started by my pal Shari Brooks and her sister Stacy Pagan to honor their mom Judy - an avid baker who died from MBC. All you have to do is log in to their Bake It Happen website to get the featured recipes, then BAKE, SHARE and THAT'S IT! Money will be donated for each share on social media with #bakeithappen. Not social media savvy? That's ok! You can email or snail mail a picture of your recipe! Not a Betty Crocker wannabe? That's ok too! Skip the cupcakes and just donate!!!!
Here is the story of why and how the Bake It Happen Campaign got started:
There is no cure for Stage 4 Breast Cancer. More than 41,000 people die each year from Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in the US alone-- our mother Judy Levin was one such casualty. Very little of the funding for breast cancer research goes to Metastatic Breast Cancer. So, we were determined to design a creative fundraising campaign to raise money. Judy was a beloved baker/cook even throughout her 6-year battle with MBC. Her kitchen was a communal table for family, friends and even strangers to embrace the tastes and love emanating from her dishes. After receiving multiple requests for Judy’s recipes over the decades, her daughters, Shari and Stacy, realized they could spread Judy’s culinary love -- all in the name of Metastatic Breast Cancer research. And so, in 2012, the Bake it Happen campaign was born.
After 5 years of Bake it Happen, we achieved our first goal: to build the baking campaign into a national fundraising movement. Over time, thousands of supporters across the country began to pass on Judy’s culinary legacy and hope for a cure. To date, we have raised over $60,000 for breast cancer research and are determined to raise more! GET BAKING.
Putting the Fun in Fundraising