Thursday, September 6, 2012

Highlight on Giving: Prostate Cancer Foundation

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Charitable giving is somewhat of a touchy subject in New York, at least for me. This is a city where you are constantly asked to spare a dollar, a dime, even a penny. I can't walk through Midtown Manhattan without being stopped by some sort of organization, asking if I will donate to their particular cause. This happens so often here that I suspect most of us start to tune out the cries for help. How do we know our money will be used responsibly? How can we be sure that the person receiving it will not squander it? At the end of the day, giving is a very hard sea to navigate...

...Especially when you feel that you have nothing TO give. Maybe you're struggling with the loss of a job or a job that doesn't pay well (been there, done that). Maybe you have a family to feed OR maybe you really, really need that pair of Christian Louboutin heels (hey, I'm not here to judge). We all have things vying for the attention of our wallets, but I've found that if you give of your money or your time, it will come back to you ten-fold. This has proven true in my own life (as I was not always a consistent giver), and I'm sure it will prove true in yours.

Image courtesy of
Initial studies have suggested that the act of giving seems to stimulate the part of the brain associated with pleasure. The more you give, the more satisfaction you feel. A study done by the Harvard Business School found that happier people tend to give more, and in turn, giving makes people happier. It's what you call a positive feedback loop.

Today will be the first post in a regular series on my blog. I know many of you have connections to charities, causes or even people that need our support. I'd like to write about those causes in my recurring post 'Highlight on Giving'. My hope is that if you are inspired by a story and feel a personal connection to it, then maybe you will find it in your heart to give AND can feel good about doing it. 

And please... if you know of a cause or a person in need, reach out to me directly through the 'Contact Me' tab on the homepage and I would be happy to include them in a future post.

Linda and Howard Cleveland
This week, I'd like to start with a cause that hits very close to home, down the street to be exact. I lived in the same neighborhood my whole life and grew up playing on the cul-de-sac with the Cleveland Family - Howard, Linda, Curtis and Hannah. Linda is my mother's best friend, and I consider the Cleveland's my other family. Two years ago, Howard was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer. He was experiencing abdominal pain and problems with frequent urination. After a few days of doctor visits, CT scans confirmed that Howard had prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the cancer was discovered after it had invaded the bone and lymph nodes, making surgery out of the question. Instead, Howard was given a shot of Lupron, a female hormone treatment (in the treatment of prostate cancer, female hormones are used to attack the testosterone levels and hopefully curb the cancer growth, but men undergoing the treatment unfortunately start to experience symptoms of menopause).

After receiving his first Lupron shot, Howard began seeing an Oncologist. He was kept on the shots every 3 months, but after about 6 months, his body started to build defenses against the drug, making it less effective. At this point, his doctor decided to supplement the Lupron shots with radiation to the spine and regular chemo treatments. Thankfully, Howard tolerated the chemo well. It made him tired, and he began losing his hair, but he responded fairly well considering. During this period he also started a new drug (at the whopping cost of $5,800/month), but it quickly became ineffective and the cancer on his spine began to grow again. After receiving 10 more rounds of radiation, Howard began to experience major issues. He lost almost 40 lbs., along with a lot of muscle mass. His energy levels dropped drastically as well.

The runners who participated in the Dash4Dad event this summer (Hannah Cleveland is in the very front row, far left).
But the good news is that Howard has begun working with a physical therapist to build up his strength and for the past 3 months, he has been on a new clinical trial drug, which he has responded very favorably to. Just recently the drug was approved for production so more men will be able to benefit from its use.

Curtis Cleveland, far right.
Howard and his family are taking things day by day. This summer, they formed a team for the Dash4Dad Atlanta 5K in celebration of Howard and some other members of the family who had been diagnosed. Their team, Flo Mo, raised over $9,000 and was second in the country for fundraising for the event. 

I wish I could have been there. Honestly, when I received the news about Howard, I was devastated. I can't express how much this man means to me. Howard is my biggest fan (well, other than my own parents) and I am his! Even in the midst of dealing with cancer, he is a pure joy to be around.

In honor of Howard's 64th birthday on September 29th AND because it is Prostate Awareness Month, I'd like to invite you to give to the Prostate Cancer Foundation if you feel led.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the leading philanthropic organization funding prostate cancer research globally. They provide funding for research, as well as support for families dealing with the cancer prognosis. They are an established organization with full financial transparency when it comes to fund allocation. Check them out on Charity Navigator.

If you would like to donate, you can do so here: Donate Now. If you would like to send a note to Howard with your gift, send me a message via the 'Contact Me' page, and I will happily provide the address.

If you choose to give, please accept my deepest gratitude. If you offer up a prayer for Howard instead, I'll be equally as grateful. Thank you.

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." - Charles Dickens

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