Impact of Respite

Patient Stories

Every FPS Family has a unique story on the challenging journey of cancer and its profound effect on their lives. Below are a few poignant accounts of FPS Respite Recipients, detailing their cancer battle and the transformative power of their Respite Experience.

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Erica, 33

Breast Cancer

Erica, a 33-year-old mother of two, has been overwhelmed with treatments and doctor’s appointments following her breast cancer diagnosis. This emotional roller coaster and shift in perspective have forced her to take a break from work as she focuses on recovery. Her nominator at Lehigh Valley Health Network knew that the gift of respite would offer Erica time to recoup and create cherished memories and reconnection with her family.

In April 2024, Erica and her family we on respite at Woodloch Resort and their joyful smiles capture the memories they made. She shared,

This respite gave us a chance to get away and feel normal. Our children had the opportunity to focus on themselves and their own fun. We have never been on an all-inclusive type of vacation, so we really enjoyed the experience. Not having to worry about cooking was an unanticipated joy! – Erica

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Ryan, 36

Colon Cancer

Ryan, at only 36 years old, received a devastating diagnosis of colon cancer in September 2023. Since then, he and his wife have encountered a multitude of financial and emotional obstacles. Ryan has had to take time off work for tests, procedures, and his appointments, adding to their burden. Their young son is grappling with the situation, struggling to comprehend his father’s illness. Recognizing the strain on the family, Ryan’s social worker at Alliance Cancer Specialists knew that this young family needed time together to create happy memories and smiles away from the shadow of cancer. 

In March 2024, Ryan and his family experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort. He was so grateful for the experience and shared, 

This respite was a much-needed mental break from not only the hardships of treatment but the daily routine, too, which is very mentally draining. My son is only four years old, but he knows daddy is sick and that there are certain things daddy can’t do after he gets his medicine. This respite allowed me to be present for the fun activities and savor time with my family. 

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Dylan, 28

Colon Cancer

At the age of 28, Dylan has been confronted with a diagnosis of colon cancer, a stark reality that has abruptly halted her young life. Amid the whirlwind of medical appointments and treatments, her nominator at Lehigh Valley Health Network knew she needed a pause – the gift of respite would grant Dylan the opportunity to cherish quality moments with her loved ones away from cancer.  

In February 2024, Dylan and her mom, Lori, experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort. She was so grateful for the experience and shared: 

 

I can’t thank you enough for my respite. I made new friends, went to a dance party, and sang all night. This respite is one I’ll never forget. It’s changed my outlook on my cancer journey and taught me I’m not alone. Other people are experiencing what I am, and it makes me feel good to have such a supportive community. – Dylan

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Nadia, 27

Breast Cancer

At just 27, Nadia is facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Amidst the demands of motherhood and the rigors of chemotherapy and surgery, Nadia has shown incredible resilience. Her nominator at Abramson Cancer Center knew she and her young family needed this temporary break. She eagerly anticipated a cost-free getaway to simply be a mom and allow herself a moment of emotional and physical rejuvenation.

In January 2024, Nadia, her husband, and her two young daughters experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort. She was so grateful for the experience and shared.

Our respite helped us create a better family bond. It gave us time to focus on one another, and we have a greater understanding of how important it is to leave everything behind and give all our attention to each other. This respite was an amazing break from school and appointments. My daily tasks didn’t take me away from the children since all I had to do was be with them. My kids went snow tubing for the first time and loved it!

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David, 43

Lung Cancer

In February 2023, David faced a daunting diagnosis of lung cancer. His journey since his diagnosis has been marked by many challenging obstacles, including traveling two hours every three weeks to receive treatment, all while maintaining his full-time job.

Recognizing the immense pressure David was under, his nominator at Memorial Sloan Kettering saw the critical need for him to have quality time away from the cancer battle. It was a necessary break and precious time to reconnect and create memories with his wife and children. David shared that this time away would be a way to step back from the exhausting routine of treatments and work to be with his family, free from the constant reminders of his battle with cancer.

David and his family experienced a Travel Respite to Woodloch Resort in December 2023! Upon returning from respite, David’s wife and caregiver, Kristen, shared,

This respite was exactly what our family needed. It allowed us to focus on our family and not be overwhelmed by everything else. We had a great time participating in activities and competitions and getting to know some of the other families. Each day was unique and special and strengthened our family bond. – Kristen

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Andrea, 48

Breast Cancer

Andrea, age 48, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2023 and has undergone surgery and multiple hospitalizations due to chemotherapy. This significantly impacted her family life, with her nine-year-old son anxious about her health and her husband working extra hours to cover medical costs. Her oncologist at Abramson Cancer Center in Cherry Hill, NJ, nominated her, knowing her family needed time to reconnect. Andrea hoped for bonding time with her family to create happy memories and a break from the stress and emotions of treatment.

In November 2023, Andrea, her husband, and her son experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort.

This respite was my “light at the end of the tunnel” for active treatment – a family bonding experience that was much needed after feeling like my illness was a burden on my family for so long. The smiles and the memories have replaced the recent darkness with light. My son told me that my cancer was a huge disruption to his happy life, but this experience returned his spirits to being happy. We are so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to bond as a family and meet other wonderful survivors and thrivers. – Andrea

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Maria, 48

Sinus Cancer

Maria, age 48, was diagnosed with sinus cancer in June 2023. Maria has leaned on her daughter as her caregiver, who has three small children and cannot work as she cares for her mom. Her oncologist at Penn Medicine nominated Maria after seeing the many struggles she and her daughter have gone through due to the aggressive nature of her cancer and the financial burden on her family. Maria hoped she would have stress-free time on respite and enjoy being with her family.

In November 2023, Maria, her daughter, and three grandchildren experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort. She was so grateful for the experience and shared:

I was able to forget what I was going through with my cancer. I got to meet a great group of people who offered their support to my family and me and know that I am not alone after talking with others. We were able to do a lot as a family and made many memories. We laughed, talked, and cried together. This was a great trip for us. – Maria

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Jen, 40

Lymphoma

Jen, age 40, a busy mom of three children, was diagnosed with Lymphoma in May 2023. Her oncology team from Jefferson Health in Philadelphia nominated her after seeing how cancer has affected her as a mother, wife, nurse and active member of her community.

In October 2023, Jen and her family experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort.

This respite allowed my children and husband. and me to spend uninterrupted quality time together to make beautiful memorable memories. My husband had a chance to relax and not feel so stressed caring for all of us. Respite allowed us to have a clean break from cancer treatment and to come back refreshed for the next steps. – Jen

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Amber, 46

Breast Cancer

Amber, age 46, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. She was nominated by her oncology team at Cancer Care Partnership in State College, PA after seeing how she has demonstrated courage and perseverance during her breast cancer journey despite encountering many challenges. They knew that Amber, her husband, and their four children would benefit from an FPS Travel Respite to help take away a positive memory from this cancer battle.

In September 2023, Amber and her family experienced FPS Respite at Woodloch Resort.

“We’ve not had time off from cancer for almost 2 years. My husband has been doing everything. To have time off to not cook and work is a blessing. It was so nice to just be a family again without all the grind and stuff cancer brings”.  – Amber

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Connie, 47

Colorectal Cancer

Connie, age 47, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2022. Her oncology team at Penn Medicine Valley Forge saw that she has maintained a positive attitude despite her rigorous treatments taking a toll on her and her family. They knew Connie and her family needed a break from cancer and nominated her for an FPS Travel Respite.

In August 2023, Connie, and her family experienced FPS Respite in Jefferson, ME. She shares that they arrived “to a space of hope, fun and acceptance.”

“Before coming here, I was feeling run down and in fear of my long-term outcome. Now, I know that I am capable and can tackle the future. My husband looks happier. My son is looking at me in the same way he did before cancer. He looks at me like I am the strongest mom ever. I feel like I am more than my cancer.” – Connie

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Laura, 48

Breast Cancer

Laura is 48 years old with breast cancer. Her 24 year old daughter is her caregiver and so many of their days have been consumed by cancer treatment and worries. Laura’s oncology team at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute knew that Laura and her children would benefit from some rest and relaxation, as well as some connection with other families facing cancer! Laura and her two children were thrilled to take a break from cancer on an FPS Travel Respite at Woodloch Resort.

“This respite was much-needed! I was able to relax and spend time with my children. I was also able to meet some really great people who will be a support to me, and already feel like friends. The respite gave me a break from thinking about my problems and it was nice for my daughter to be with other caregivers who could relate. I feel more positive about my situation now and it was really helpful to see how others are coping with their cancer. We experienced so many activites and events that we really did get a break from cancer! Thank you!” – Laura

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Dorcy, 41

Colon Cancer

Dorcy is 41 years old and was diagnosed with colon cancer. Over the past three years she has undergone three surgeries for her cancer, along with needing to care for multiple other health conditions that have prevented her from working. Dorcy feels as though it has been one thing after another without a break.

Her oncology team at Wellspan Health and Cancer Care Associates wanted to give her family a respite to take a break from the hardships and sickness. Getting the chance to create memories with her daughter was all Dorcy could hope for. On respite at Woodloch in September, Dorcy’s family was able to bond with other people going through a similar situation which gave them a better understanding of how to cope with cancer.

“This respite was a beautiful break from everyday life dealing with my hardships. My family met so many wonderful people to talk to about my situation and it helped me remember that I’m not alone.” – Dorcy

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Awilda, 51

Breast Cancer

Awilda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. As a single parent of two children, she experienced struggles from treatment and financial worries. She recently completed treatment and her oncology team at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care wanted to give her a chance to finally “exhale” with her kids.

Awilda told us, “We need this respite to erase the memories of cancer treatment. We need a reset and a chance to make up for lost time.”

Awilda and her children traveled to Woodloch Resort in December, where they made new memories filled with fun and connected with other FPS families.

Upon return from respite, Awilda shared with us,

“I am so grateful for this respite. It’s helped me to relax and calm my mind. It was important for my family [to take this break from cancer] because they have been through the entire process with me, and they were scared I wasn’t going to make it. I also met other people going through the same thing as me and made new friendships. Thank you!”

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Katie, 32

Leukemia

Diagnosed with leukemia in 2021, cancer took a toll on Katie’s life that was bigger than she could have imagined. Katie experienced significant health problems related to her cancer including seizures and fluid around her heart. She’s experienced so much pain – socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Katie’s oncology team at Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center nominated her for an FPS Respite Experience so she’d have something to look forward to during a long treatment journey. In February, Katie and her husband, Nick, embarked on a Travel Respite at Woodloch with other FPS families. For this, they are forever grateful! Upon return from respite, Katie shared with us,

“Even though I am the one with the cancer diagnosis, Nick has endured every step of this journey with me over the past 14 months. At times, I find it hard to remember a life worth fighting for when our every thought is about upcoming appointments, lab results, or next steps in treatment. It feels impossible to make plans to enjoy life when there are no guarantees with cancer.

 

Through this respite opportunity we were able to reconnect and enjoy ourselves in ways that we knew we wanted but did not realize we needed. We were able to create incredible memories and friendships with other families also enduring cancer and the tribulations that follow.”

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Yan, 42

Breast Cancer

Yan is 42 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2021. It’s been difficult for her to work and her husband has had to work more hours, leaving less time for family bonding and support. Yan’s oncology team at Fox Chase Cancer Center knew some precious time away would be beneficial for the entire family! In June, Yan, her husband and their children traveled to Woodloch Resort for an FPS Travel Respite. Here’s what they shared upon their return,

“This respite was great for all of us. It brought us closer as a family and we relaxed the entire time. It was amazing for my mom to heal. We have never been to the Poconos before so this respite held a lot of “firsts” for us. Thank you for giving us this experience!” – Stephanie, Yan’s daughter.

 

“This respite taught me to enjoy things as they come. We never had a set schedule and we enjoyed every minute. This respite also showed me how beautiful nature is, and that taking things slow relieves a lot of stress! We had fun, laughed, relaxed and forgot about my cancer!” – Yan

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Brian, 42

Brian, 42, is a high school teacher and was diagnosed with cancer in early 2022. Brian shared that his task was straight forward- to rest, to try to eat, and to endure. Brian says that his husband, Marc, has a much more uneasy task as caregiver. Even during struggling times Marc continued to push forward, and Brian says that Marc is the reason he continues to make progress. For this reason, Brian wanted to surprise Marc by “getting back to something we have missed- making memories together.”

His oncology team at Cape Regional Medical Center Radiation wanted to give Brian and his husband a break from cancer once Brian completed radiation therapy in September. They knew that Brian and Marc love to travel, which they haven’t been able to do since Brian began treatment. Because of our FPS community, the couple were given the opportunity to travel to Woodloch Resort in October!

“We were treated like family! This respite was a positive boost to our mental well-being, and I gained more perspective on why my husband, and I are fighting this.” – Brian

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