• From Cancer Survivor to Triathlete, Joel Alsup Does It All

    From Cancer Survivor to Triathlete, Joel Alsup Does It All

    This past year I had the great honor of visiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Our tour guide was Joel Alsup and he knew every in and out of the hospital. During the tour, he begins to tell his story of being a St. Jude cancer survivor. Not only was he knowledgeable, but as he shared facts about St. Jude, his face lit up with an energy that was contagious.

    Twenty-nine years ago this month, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is a type of cancer that starts in the bones.

    “I was 7 years old when my parents noticed that I stopped using my right hand. We went to my pediatrician and noticed the tumor on my arm. The tumor was strong enough to break a bone in my arm. Two days after Christmas, we traveled to St. Jude for help, “ says Joel.

    Former cancer patient, Joel Alsup is carried by his doctor, Brent Powell.

    Joel Alsup and Brent Powell

    Joel’s parents were uncertain if their health insurance would be sufficient to cover the year-long treatment. “I remember my Dad approaching the front gate at St. Jude and asking for hotel recommendations. We come to find out that all our expenses would be paid: room, board, meals, and treatment! ‘Focus on your son they said.”

    Chemotherapy started right away, but eventually Joel would receive distressing news. His arm would have to be amputated. He was put in touch with another patient who was also receiving treatment. Joel felt at ease knowing that someone else was fighting the same disease as he was, and his innate ability to power- thru helped him complete his journey. Joel remembers, “If John could do it, then I can too! At the time, I was more upset that my favorite Cubs t-shirt was cut to place my IV!”

    Joel was lucky that the tumor didn’t spread. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in children and teens. If the disease is localized (has not spread to other areas of the body), the long-term survival rate is 70 to 75%. If osteosarcoma has already spread to the lungs or other bones at diagnosis, the long-term survival rate is about 30%.

    Astonishingly, Joel wouldn’t change any part of his experience. “Losing my arm was a small price to pay. Sometimes, I feel guilty that I made it. In the past year, I’ve lost 3 friends. I go to bed knowing that they would want me to keep going and helping others. I have nothing but deep gratitude for St. Jude. As years go by, I witness St. Jude saving more kids.”

    Not only is Joel a former St. Jude cancer survivor, Joel has worked for St. Jude for 14 years. With a degree in Media Production, Joel is a producer and now works with other families to tell their story.

    “I enjoy filming the many beautiful stories that come from St. Jude. It’s amazing every time,” says Joel. See below to watch St. Jude’s end of year video produced by Joel.

    The default player for embedding or displaying video on stjude.org. Default size: 480×270


    Joel is not just a survivor, he has chosen to live life to the fullest. He has completed his 11th triathlon. In April 2016, he completed one in 7 hours! With the love of the outdoors and life, he plans to continue to be a part of them and spreading St. Jude’s message.

     

    Former patient, Brian, Joel, and former patient, Sarah at a marathon.

    Former patient, Brian, Joel, and former patient, Sarah

    “Life is beautiful. I look back at 29 years of life and being the best man in my brother’s wedding, being at my sister’s wedding, and vacationing with my family. St. Jude means everything to me. And what they’ve accomplished is beyond what I thought it would be. St. Jude is graduation. It’s a wedding. They’re part of my family.”

    To support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, please click here.

  • What does hope look like?

    What does hope look like?

    I’m incredibly proud to announce that I’ll be participating in this week’s #StJudeBlogTour in Memphis, TN. I and 12 other bloggers were lucky to be chosen to be part of the amazing opportunity in touring St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My eyes filled up with tears when I received the email invitation. I kept reading it over and over again, thinking it was a mistake. Come to find out, that it wasn’t.

    This blog’s intention is to spread overall good health: mind, body, soul and most of all giving back. Supporting children’s causes is the most important topic for me, this invitation is a humbling and most of all purpose-filled driven for this blog.

    What did I do to deserve such an incredible invitation? It’s certainly a sign that I’m willing to discover.

    We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. My hope is to bring more awareness in supporting those affected. During those times of need, it’s important to come together. And St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a great example of this.

    Therefore, please follow me on Instagram and Twitter for updates.

    Join me in the conversation using hashtag #StJudeBlogTour. The children would greatly appreciate it!

  • Valentine’s Gifts That Give Back

    I always look for gifts which contribute to a special cause. Shop this Valentine’s Day and feel extra good about giving back!

    From jewelry, fashion, and home decor, you have the great chance of helping to save a child’s life this Valentine’s Day.  Save the Children, one of many children’s organizations I love to support has an assortment of gifts to choose from.

    Feed created by Lauren Bush Lauren is another favorite. I own their burlap bag and love it. Help their fight against hunger.

    Recently, I wrote a post on Heifer International. From small to large amount of dollars, your purchase can help give a flock of sheep or send a girl to school.

    In addition to supporting children’s causes, I also support animal causes. Make a donation in support of World Wildlife Fund.

    The Shine Project help to provide a better life for inner-city kids. Their jewelry is beautiful and I love their digital vibes!

    Lastly, get the most phenomenal gift to the best person in the world. You!

  • Giving Back with Heifer International

    Do you believe you alone can make a difference in this world? Call me a dreamer, but I say yes!

    I’m lucky to participate in Latina Bloggers Connect latest promotion with Heifer International. Any chance I get to promote a cause via social media, I jump to the chance!

    Nearly 70 years ago, Dan West, a farmer, from the American Midwest and member of the Church of the Brethren went to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War as an aid worker. His mission was to provide relief. Providing a cup of milk to refugees not enough for him. He dreamt of giving more. Perhaps a cow!

    Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Their animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.

    Just in time for my trip to Canada, I received a hand-made, beautiful, soft as a feather scarf from Heifer International. It was made with such care from a women’s group in Marcapata, Peru in which they used fiber from alpacas they raised and shear themselves. Heifer preserves the heritage and history of rural farmers while providing them resources and training.

    The second scarf given to me is part of Pass on the Gift®. This concept is each farming family who receives an animal gift is passed on the first female offspring to another in need. By the time this post is live, the lucky one to receive the second scarf is my friend’s 1o-year-old daughter. She’ll love it!

    My view in a yoga class in beautiful Canada.

    My view in a yoga class in beautiful Canada.

    During the holiday season, there are those who are struggling and being cheerful may not be the answer. You might be experiencing loss, heartache, illness, financial trouble, family challenges…Observing others enjoying their holiday may bring bitterness to you.

    Try something new.

    Give. Give to a cause you truly care about. I don’t mean money. You can give your time or your voice through social media. When you give, you give right back to yourself and all of a sudden, you begin to feel good.

    So join me in the conversation. Please click here to learn how you can be part of #GiveHeifer.

    What can you do to #giveback to #GiveHiefer to make a difference?

    With gratitude!