In my real estate career, I have been searching for a way to get involved at a local level and pay forward my good fortune of being cured of cancer myself. Now, I’ve finally found a way. Jamason Realty Group at Smith & Associates Real Estate has decided to create a fund that will donate $25,000 to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to be used for pediatric cancer research over the next 5 years. Beyond this, our team will also be volunteering in the hospital as well. We are planning some fun events for the children and families being treated here, as well as I have signed up to be a Pet Therapy assistant who brings dogs to play with the children who are receiving in-patient treatments.
The way we will raise the $25,000 is by donating a portion of our proceeds from each closing we have to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, as well as a few fundraising events we’ll hold each year. By buying or selling a home with Jamason Realty Group, you are also supporting Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Here’s how you can help!
- Know someone planning to move that we can reach out to and see if we can help? Contact us and send us their name & number! We love referrals! Remember, a portion of every closing we have goes towards the fund!
- Want to volunteer and help out at one of our fundraising events! Contact us and let us know.
Now, let me just tell you how amazing this facility is. I was able to do a tour of the facility and I teared up at least 3 times during the tour. It hits so close to home for me. This place goes above and beyond just treating sick children, to making it a not-so-miserable place for them. There are game rooms, art sessions, pet therapy visits, parades in the halls, and so much more. The kids even get interactive TV menus in their room from which they can order room service, watch an on demand movie and more. I was simply blown away. But what really got me was the bell in the hallway of the cancer ward. The kids get to ring the bell on the day they finish their last chemo or radiation treatment, and everyone cheers and the sound brings hope to the others still in the process.
Now I’m tearing up just writing this!
To tell you a bit about my story, at the tender age of 23, I was coughing constantly, very tired, winded going up and down stairs in my home, waking with night sweats, losing weight (which I didn’t complain much about!) and had an itchy chest. Basically, I felt like I had the flu. It took a doctor’s eye to recognize a lump on the side of my neck and a very off blood cell count to send me for a biopsy, which came back positive for Lymphoma, which for those not in the know, is a cancer of the blood and lymphatic system.
Weeks later after sending my biopsy sample to Johns Hopkins for verification, it was determined that I had Stage 3B Hodgkins Lymphoma. Doctors told me my hair would fall out from the chemo, I’d get fat from the steroids I’d be taking (fat during cancer?! Really?!), and I could possibly become infertile from my treatments, but that I had an 80% survival chance. They seemed to be so happy about that 80% number but all I could think about was what about the other 20%? After undergoing 3 months of intense chemotherapy and 1 month of radiation, I was declared in remission and have thankfully remained that way ever since.
A few years later, another cancer charity I was involved with asked me if I would be sort of an online mentor to Megan, a patient who also had, like me, Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma. Of course, I said, convinced she’d have the same outcome as I did. Megan had a lump on the side of her neck too, and she was 19 at the time she started treatments. We had so much in common. We talked frequently via email, AOL instant message and MySpace back in those days. Megan finished her treatments, and I didn’t hear from her for awhile. I knew she’d gone on a vacation with her family to their lake house. One day, while at my office, I was on MySpace and saw a page pop up in my newsfeed that said “In Loving Memory of Megan”.
I pretty much lost it on the spot upon seeing that. While I only knew Megan via social media, we’d become very close. We talked about our secrets and fears – could we have children? Would our cancers ever come back? Megan apparently had relapsed I later found out, had a stem cell transplant and passed shortly thereafter. She was in the dreaded 20%. I cringe when I hear about doctors who say things like “If you are going to have cancer, this is the one to have” because I think of Megan. I’m not sure why I had such great success with the same exact treatment that did not work for Megan. There should be no 20% – we need treatments and cures that work for everyone.
I am so thankful that I was able to be cured from my blood cancer, and have high hopes that through more research and our donations, others will be too. We hope you’ll join us and get involved with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital too – by referring us to your friends and family, or volunteering at one of our fundraising events. Together we can find more cures for cancer.