Your Gifts Matter – To Them & Us

We are inspired to provide hope — inspired by those who share with us the difference that physicians, staff and volunteers have made during their journey with cancer.

Be inspired too by these testimonials and know that your donations to the Illinois CancerCare Foundation have a profound impact on our patients and their families. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of cancer patients in our community, while paving the way to a CURE.

Gina Kouri

Dorothy Bartel

Terry Baum

Raber Family

Raber Family
The Raber family enjoys family get-togethers, eating at local restaurants and going to sporting events. And like so many of us, their lives have been affected by cancer.

On June 17 their lives changed drastically when Don Raber, the pillar of the family, was diagnosed with brain cancer. With the help and support of Dr. Andrew Tsung of the Illinois Neurological Institute, Dr. James McGee of OSF Radiation Oncology and Dr. Francois Geoffroy of Illinois CancerCare, Don, his wife, Carolyn, and the entire family embarked on his cancer treatment journey.

“The doctors that we dealt with were down to earth, caring individuals with dad’s wellbeing, being number one on the priority list,” said Doug Raber, Don and Carolyn’s son.

“The Illinois CancerCare staff always made room for our entire family—my mom, myself, my sister and brother, and at times, the in-laws of the family,” explains daughter Amy Koerner. “They just kept bringing us more chairs and Kleenex.”

“No one ever made you think you were taking up too much of their time,” remarked daughter Sara Zimmerman.

After a tough treatment regime, eleven weeks after the initial diagnosis, Don, surrounded by family, passed away. Despite the unwanted outcome, the family bond grew stronger and they wanted to make a difference in the lives of other cancer patients by designating his memorial, the Illinois CancerCare Foundation. “We want to help others that might have to face the terrible disease that Don was experiencing,” said Carolyn. “We also decided to honor Dr. Geoffroy (as a care champion) in the whole process because he had helped us so much in the final resolutions with Don’s situation.”

The family continues to move forward but keep Don’s memory alive. Before his passing, they had family portraits taken on the farm where Don grew up. It was one of his better days, and all of them will cherish those pictures forever. Another memory they will cherish is when the three adult children kidnapped their dad and took him to the jewelry store. Knowing that he would not make it to his 50th wedding anniversary, Don bought his wife a new wedding set that he had always promised her. With the help of his kids, Don gave it to Carolyn just days before his passing. “How beautiful and special it was for us when he placed those rings on my finger,” said Carolyn.

As a family, the Rabers know that cancer doesn’t discriminate. They will continue to honor Don, “the hard working, successful farmer who loved to have fun in his life.” The family also wants to rid this world of the disease by giving to the Illinois CancerCare Foundation which supports clinical trial research, education and patient support services.

As for how they will keep going, Carolyn’s grandson summed it up in Don’s eulogy, “I am not one that likes to say goodbye, so for now I am going to say, “I’ll see you later.”

Liz Pisano

This is the story of Liz Pisano, a cancer survivor.
Genetic testing saved Liz and her younger brother’s life.

At age 22 the last thing I expected to deal with was a cancer diagnosis. Both fortunate and unfortunately, I already knew the obvious warning signs of colon cancer. Only six years prior I watched my older brother who was 21 at the time succumb to the same disease. How could two young adults develop a cancer that is most common in people over 50 and what does this mean for my other brother?

These were questions that only genetic testing could answer. Simple blood tests and a long wait were required, but my family was rewarded with answers. With results in hand, I was dealt a hard but inevitable truth, I had colon cancer. To prevent further cancer development, a hysterectomy was necessary. As a newlywed, this was a tough blow that would mean no children of my own. I doubted my decision even after the surgery was complete; however, when pathology reports came back showing pre-cancerous cells in my uterus and again in my colon, I knew I had made the correct choice.
As one doctor would put it, I was a ticking time bomb.

Without genetic testing, where would I be today? Still undergoing treatment or worse? In the meantime, my brother got the news that we had all been praying for, his genes showed a slight difference than mine. While he would have to be monitored closely after age 40, this was positive news for our entire family. As a direct result of genetic testing, my family can rest easier as we know the types of cancer that our mutations cause and what symptoms to look for in each case.