Photo caption: Due to access of innovative therapies, Sherry was able to walk Shelley down the aisle at her wedding. From left: Sherry, Shelley and Christi.
The More Moments More Memories Foundation, which launched on March 20, 2017, helps ease financial burdens for individuals with cancer as they travel to clinical trials.
The foundation is hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and was founded by Northeast Iowa natives, sisters Christi and Shelley Shaw, in honor of their mother and sister. Christi and Shelley understand personally and professionally the needs of cancer patients and the sad reality that those with financial means are more able to access quality solutions.
The Shaw sisters’ mother, Karen, died of breast cancer in 1996. At the time, the sisters were told there was nothing more anyone could do to save their mom’s life. She suffered through chemotherapy, radiation, and fought to stay alive. What the sisters did not know was that there were clinical trials available at the time in other parts of the country.
Cancer touched their lives again when their sister, Sherry, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. As a high-risk patient, she is running out of options and has had to travel many states away to gain access to new solutions to try and save her life. Fortunately, Christi and Shelley put their careers on hold to support Sherry through a clinical trial and other innovative treatments.
Christi was president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in the U.S. and Shelley was senior director of global marketing at Baxalta. As pharmaceutical industry executives, they had both the knowledge and experience to become patient caregivers and advocates for their sister, but most families in similar situations do not have that unique experience or ability. The Shaw sisters are passionate about their belief that money or lack of awareness should never stand in the way of creating more moments and more memories for families.
Dr. Keith Goldstein, associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is treating Sherry's cancer. “More Moments More Memories Foundation is an amazing source of hope and assurance for cancer patients and their caregivers to access treatment innovations,” he said.
Sherry added, “When you hear the words ‘your treatment is no longer working’ from your oncologist, it is a very difficult message to take in and you quickly start losing hope. Then your doctor says, ‘There could be a clinical trial that you might qualify for, but it's in a different state,’ and the first thing you think of is, ‘How will I afford this?’ The financial burden makes you want to say no. Now, the More Moment More Memories Foundation will help remove that burden so patients can concentrate on hope.”
Dr. Ken Zichal, of Elkader, said, “I have been a family physician for 40 years in Northeast Iowa. For my patients to have access to this kind of financial support to reach clinical trials is amazing. The generosity of the Shaw sisters, who grew up in Clayton County and have now founded More Moments More Memories Foundation, exemplifies what makes working in a rural community so wonderful.”
For more information, to donate or to apply for a grant, visit: moremomentsmorememories.org.