When Valley entrepreneur David Walling was starting the nonprofit Be Kind Project last year to support various acts of kindness, he didn’t know he would soon be supporting his wife in the fight of her life.
At just 36 years old and with no family history, Jessica Walling had just been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a subtype in which the three most common receptors known to fuel most breast cancers are not present. Without these receptors, treatments like hormone therapy and drugs targeting estrogen, progesterone and HER-2 are ineffective.
Jessica’s treatment plan would involve chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. She sought the expertise of Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, where not only could she get her medical needs met in one location by a specialized team of experts in her specific cancer type, she would also be eligible for clinical trials.
David was relieved his wife was receiving world-class care, and he saw firsthand the benefits of her participation in programs of the Center for Cancer Prevention and Integrative Oncology. She received nutrition counseling, enjoyed cancer-specific massage therapy to relieve pain and discomfort, and had acupuncture during chemotherapy to help prevent the common side effect of peripheral neuropathy. She also benefitted from psycho-oncology, counseling that helps cancer patients and their loved ones meet the stresses of treatment, cope with pain and insomnia, face relationship challenges, and work through issues common after a cancer diagnosis.
David decided his new charity’s first project would be to ensure all Banner MD Anderson patients fighting breast cancer have that same access to quality care that Jessica had. The Be Kind Project pledged $1.25 million to create an endowment and an operational fund for breast cancer patient assistance, in partnership with Banner MD Anderson, and the Wallings are raising funds to help the endowment grow. The fund will help individuals diagnosed with breast cancer, their families, and their children, with supportive care expenses not covered by insurance, including:
- Clinical needs: MRIs for patients with dense breasts and family histories of breast cancer, clinical trial participation and important genetic studies.
- Supportive needs: Scalp cooling therapy which can help preserve hair for chemo patients, acupuncture and other supportive therapies and services.
- Children and family needs: Psycho-oncology services for children and assistance for spouses/couples dealing with intimacy or body image issues post-treatment.
“We continue to be inspired and we look forward to not only giving back, but to helping improve the cancer treatment process for others,” says David.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to give to the Be Kind Project: Breast Cancer Patient Assistance Endowment with your tax-deductible donation.
PHOTO COURTESY BANNER MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER