CINCINNATI — A breast cancer diagnosis means more than just going to doctors appointments -- it also means learning to live with the disease during the treatment period. One local foundation started in the Tri-State is helping patients do just that.
The Karen Wellington Foundation for Living With Breast Cancer helps fulfill the dreams of those in the middle of dealing with the disease.
In late 2019, Michelle Box was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments filled the days that followed – made all the tougher by the coronavirus pandemic.
“My son – his comment throughout this has been, ‘Are we gonna go on vacation sometime soon?’” Box said.
She said when going through all the treatments that are required by a cancer diagnosis, sometimes fun can fall by the wayside.
“It can if you allow it to,” Box said. “We’re inundated with appointments – with radiation it was every day for six weeks – trying to figure out how to live life normally through that.”
Karen Wellington’s children, Angeline and Robby said they understand the frustration that families face. Their mother battled cancer during their early childhood years, but they said their mother tried to keep the family active during that tough time.
“She really prioritized fun,” Angeline Wellington said. “She made sure we had some of that fun on the calendar to carry us on long after she was here.”
After Karen died, the family had an idea about what they could do to help others in the name of their mother.
“We thought wouldn't it be cool if in lieu of flowers at mom's funeral, we sent one other family in a situation like us...on a vacation...and we did that first year,” Robby Wellington said. The year after, they did three vacations.
It’s a mission that includes any "fun givers" donating everything from places to stay to adventures all to help the Wellingtons serve up their own version of a spoon full of sugar.
“We are just about to hit our 1,000th gift of fun for women and families living with cancer,” Angeline Wellington said.
She said the big emphasis gets put on "living." The Wellington Foundation sent the Box family on a trip to the Outerbanks.
“Oh, it’s everything,” Box said. “It’s everything to see them not stress about my illness.”
Families taking trips have often found other positives from taking the vacations.
“When we see photos after trips are over – in a lot of those photos, what you don’t see is cancer,” Robby Wellington said.
Both Wellingtons say they are happy continuing sharing their mother’s compassion and good will with others.
“It fills your heart and it makes me happy we get to continue mom’s legacy,” Angeline Wellington said.
For those on the receiving end – it makes a big difference.
“It was just what our family needed,” Box said. “My kids needed to be carefree for a while – and they were.”
Currently, the foundation has a waiting list of more than 50 women.
Organizations or people who want to donate or nominate someone for a gift of fun can do so on their website.