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Foundation Provides 'Breathing Room' for Familes Living with Cancer

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I live in Pennsylvania. My story is about the importance of providing real “hands-on” help to cancer patients and their families.

Unfortunately, I know cancer all too well. It has robbed me of my father, aunt, grandmother, and grandfather. Because of that, I know how important a helping hand can be for cancer patients and their families.

For the past six years, I have been a volunteer for The Breathing Room Foundation (TBRF), a nonprofit cancer outreach program in Pennsylvania. Its name describes its mission -- to give cancer patients and their families ‘breathing room’ from life’s daily chores, so they can focus on getting well. TBRF assists people with all types of cancer by offering help with finances, transportation, companionship, home repairs, home-cooked meals, and more.

I spend more than 60 hours a month helping families cope with cancer, or helping direct fund-raising initiatives or participating in them. In January 2009, I became President of TBRF. I also served on its board of directors for many years.

The Breathing Room Foundation is an amazing organization. Not only do we help anyone with any type of cancer, we also offer many programs during the year at no cost to our recipients. We customize each recipient’s request so that they get the exact help they need and concentrate on getting better.

I remember the first time my wife and I volunteered at a Celebration of Life event, sponsored by TBRF. We were moved by listening to Bernie, the co-founder, speak about Diane, his wife, and her struggle with breast cancer. They talked about how their family and friends had helped them so they could have more time to spend together working to get Diane better. In 1997, Diane lost her battle with cancer, but she left a legacy behind. She wanted to make sure other families could get the same help that they did. After hearing this, my wife and I decided this is where we wanted to put all of our time.

In 1997 TBRF helped three people. Last year, we helped more than 523 people. We are growing larger each year and we need more volunteers, sponsors, and donations. I am thrilled to have had so many opportunities to spread the word that volunteerism can make a difference.

This year I was tremendously honored to have been the recipient of a Jefferson Award for Public Service through my employer, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. And in June, I was asked to represent my company for a two-day Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, D.C. I’ll never forget those experiences.

I encourage everyone to be a volunteer at least once. I guarantee that it will bring many personal rewards and satisfaction.

For more information about The Breathing Room Foundation, visit:

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