by Jamie Rogers, Venue, January 2014
Karen Wellington inspired so many people in the way that she lived every day of her life through her battle with breast cancer. She would have wanted her friends to share that inspiration with others who are living with breast cancer.
Karen’s husband Kent and their friends established the Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer in 2007 to honor Karen’s life and to share her legacy of living life to the fullest each and every day. The mission of the foundation is to give women Karen’s gift by sending them and their families on vacations, spa days, and nights out in order to create memories and give families valuable time together.
One such story is Heather Ray’s. She lost her battle with breast cancer two years ago, but before her death she was able to spend a vacation with her two young daughters. The memories created on that vacation will stay with her little girls forever.
Lauren Carr was diagnosed with breast cancer at the very young age of 27. She wasn’t sure where to turn or what to do. The news had come as an absolute and horrific shock. She had been involved with the Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation prior to her diagnosis, attending their events and fundraisers. After her diagnosis, a few very dear friends of Lauren nominated her for Karen’s gift.
The foundation sent Lauren on a weeklong trip to Little Traverse Bay, Michigan. It was a month past finishing her third surgery and a few months after her chemotherapy treatment. The vacation was a much-needed relief from the stress and pain she had endured. Without the Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation, she would have never been able to go on a vacation through her own means. Her life had been completely consumed by trying to get better – doctor appointments, surgeries, bills, and insurance companies. It was an incredible blessing for Lauren to have the organization step in and give her a relief from the mental and physical stress.
The trip reminded her that she wasn’t alone in her fight and that there were people in her community who supported her, whether they knew her or not. For Lauren, the trip was a necessary break from the mentally daunting stress that her illness had brought upon her.
She says, “I don’t know if I would have been able to get through the rest of the year if it had not been for the break the Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation had given me.”
Lauren was diagnosed at the end of 2009, and it came as an enormous surprise. At such a young age and with the absence of a family history of breast cancer, she did not believe she would be at risk. Luckily, she was proactive in her health and was tested. She is overjoyed to say that her prognosis is looking positive and that she is doing very well today.
In 2010, Laura Lamb was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was in between her procedures: a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. After her first surgery, the bills began to accumulate and she found herself in a place of loneliness, depression, and helplessness. She and her husband were approaching their 20th wedding anniversary, and her family had been planning a trip to Hawaii. The family had made sacrifices all year in order to pay for the vacation by saving every extra dollar in order to afford their monumental trip. In March, Laura hit a low point, realizing that the costs associated with her illness would deny her family the opportunity of their much deserved vacation. She had heard of the Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation and all of the amazing work they do, and made the decision to contact them.
Laura understood that her situation may not be a good fit for the foundation because the foundation provides trips based on vacation homes that are donated to them. She was exuberant ant when she received a call from the foundation. They felt driven to help. Laura keeps a blog, and she used her blog as a way to cope, share her story, and reach out to others who needed support as well. The Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation found her blog to be inspiring and was touched by the positive attitude that Laura exuded. The foundation raised the funding to cover the cost of the family’s plane tickets. The incredibly generous assistance allowed Laura and her family a much
“The trip meant the world to our family,” Laura explains. “It was such an amazing thing to be able to celebrate being a family for 20 years, especially after they thought that their mom and wife was going to die.” For Laura, the trip gave her family the time to love each other, be happy, and have a time void of all of the stress and heartache of her illness. It was the most beautiful 10 days of Laura’s life.
The Karen Wellington Memorial Foundation’s kindness helped Laura to realize how important it was to take time to really appreciate living. To have strangers extend themselves to her was very meaningful. As a mom, she has always been used to caring for others and it was incredible to have others take care of her.