For more than 30 years, the month of October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with the goal of increasing awareness and raising funds to support research, according to website CancerCare.
The public charity Inspiring Life Together (ILT) was expected to kick off the month with its annual Inspired by Comedy event on Oct. 1. The fundraiser benefits moms undergoing treatment for breast cancer and their families.
“It was an amazing turnout,” said ILT founder Spring Williams, of the 2022 show. “We had a lot of people from the community, some of my student’s parents, friends, family members, and we were able last year to raise $14,000 from the event.”
Williams, a teacher at Moorestown High School, founded ILT in 2020, a year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. According to its website, ILT’s mission is to provide practical goods and services to women and their families while they are undergoing treatment for breast cancer and provide services that help alleviate some of the day-to-day burdens of those families.
“When I was diagnosed it was something that was … I think my first emotion was embarrassment,” Williams recalled, “because I was looked at as that strong person that told everyone to eat well and exercise and drink a lot of water, and here I ended up being the one that was sick.”
As she went through chemo, surgery and radiation, Williams got support from her family, friends, colleagues and others.
“ … They would come over and clean my house and cut my grass, and one of my student’s parents, she actually gave me a huge bag of items to support the side effects that come with each stage that you go through,” Williams noted.
“I had family members and friends contribute financially so that my kids could go to camp while I was getting chemotherapy,” she added. “I just had support through all angles – groceries, meals, everything.”
ILT supports up to 12 South Jersey women with breast cancer every year and follows each – along with her family – for 12 months, providing care boxes for chemo, radiation and surgery that include items to relieve discomfort throughout each stage of treatment. ILT also offers options for products such as groceries and toiletries, and services such as lawn care and house cleaning.
Throughout their time with ILT, families also receive milestone gifts and cards for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays, monthly calls from the organization’s volunteers, and invitations to virtual and in-person gatherings of ILT families. Every year Williams looks forward to seeing how the Inspired by Comedy event rallies the community.
“Our team prides ourself in being able to establish relationships with our ladies,” she explained. “We want to know what’s going on, we want to hear how their doctor’s appointments went, we want to know what concerns them and their fears, so having them at this event and also allowing them to be able to see all of the people that are helping us to get the funds that we need to support them, just really shows them the community and those that have their back as they go through different stages of treatment.”
Over the course of three years, Williams has not only seen ILT grow financially, she’s also seen how the organization’s relationships with moms and families have blossomed.
“I call it my beautiful gift in an ugly package,” she noted. “This is a gift to be able to pay it forward, but the package of breast cancer is the ugliness of it, so this is my beautiful gift in an ugly package.”
To donate or learn more about ILT, visit https://www.inspiringlifetogether.org.