September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, so we dedicate this issue of Be Inkandescent magazine to the women and their loved ones who have struggled with this disease.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, more than 21,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 14,000 US women died from it.
“A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75,” according to Vanda Soldati, the chapter manager of the Delaware Valley National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. “Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100.”
Unfortunately, most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed late, when the prognosis is poor, Soldati says, but points out the positive — that if caught early, the five-year survival rate is over 90 percent.
“There is currently no early-detection test for ovarian cancer, nor is there a vaccination to prevent the disease,” Soldati adds. “The key to early diagnosis is awareness.”
Making more people aware of the disease was the mission for Soldati and hundreds of others who turned out on July 30, 2016, to support the 2nd Sherri’s Walk by the Water, an event that attracted nearly 400 people who were inspired to put an end to a disease that the American Cancer Society calls a silent killer.
“Our goal was to raise as much money as possible for ovarian cancer research,” explains Sherri’s daughter, Rachel Gendelman, who with her father, Bob, created the Sherri S. Gendelman Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research and organized the annual Sherri’s Walk by the Water.
Starting at 8 AM at Margate, New Jersey’s famous Lucy the Elephant museum, the sea of supporters took a two-mile walk down the beach to touch the pier that Sherri and her family strolled to for decades. By noon, $79,149 had been raised.
Scroll down for our Q&A with the Gendelmans and their team of supporters.
Also in this issue:
You’ll meet a dozen of our favorite nonprofits and fundraising experts who share their mission, vision, and tips for successful fundraising, including:
Wendy Smith, author of “Give a Little,” who says, “It’s not the size of the contribution that matters. What matters are the outcomes your giving produces.” Learn more about her in our Book of the Month.
Charles Best, founder of Donors Choose. “I knew there were people from all walks of life around the country who would want to help improve our public schools,” says the man who helps school teachers fund the projects they know will help their students. Discover more in this month’s Education column.
Robert Egger is “Begging for Change,” and explains why fundraisers shouldn’t reinvent philanthropy. “Just as there are too many nonprofits duplicating services, there are too many corporations and foundations duplicating philanthropic efforts.” Learn more in our Finance column.
We leave you with this parting thought from social business expert Dr. Muhammad Yunus: “As I have always said, human beings have a natural desire to help one another. It’s a motivating force that is just as powerful as the desire for profit. Social business taps and satisfies this desire to do good.”
Celebrating a Life: Sherri's Walk by the Water, 2016
After three clinical trials, two major surgeries, and 42 rounds of chemo, Sherri S. Gendelman ended her 17-month valiant battle with ovarian cancer on Nov. 22, 2014.
But her legacy, light, and might live on in the many people she touched throughout her life — especially her gorgeous daughter Rachel, loving husband Bob, and close friends, including Barbara Tarlow Radler, Sue Epstein, and Lori Ranieri — who couldn’t let that light dim.
They knew that Sherri’s wish was to help other women who were suffering from cancer, and on July 25, 2015, hosted the first “Sherri’s Walk by the Water” in one of Sherri’s favorite spots — the beach in Margate, New Jersey. More than 250 people turned out, raising more than $40,000.
While planning the first walk took a toll on the organizers, Rachel was determined not to give up.
She convinced her dad, and Barbara and Sue, to do a second annual walk — and on Saturday, July 30, 2016, Rachel’s determination paid off. Nearly 400 people attended, raising close to $80,000 to fund research.
“I know that my mom (pictured above) would have wanted me to keep this event going,” says Rachel. “And I think that she’d be proud that we doubled the funds raised this year. This event is a tribute to her, and to all of the brave women and their families who continue to fight to battle this disease.”
On the eve of the event,Be Inkandescent magazine had the honor of interviewing the organizers of Sherri’s Walk by the Water: Rachel, Bob, Barbara, and Sue — as well as Vanda Soldati, the chapter manager of the Delaware Valley of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
Don’t Stop Now! Learn more about this amazing event, and the passionate caregivers who made it happen — so you can do the same in your community. And click here to read our Q&A with the team that organized the fundraiser to discover the passion, power, and challenges involved in creating Sherri’s Walk by the Water.
How to Silence a Silent Killer
Making more people aware of the silent, deadly disease of ovarian cancer is the mission for Rachel and Bob Gendelman — the daughter and husband of Sherri Gendelman, who died Nov. 22, 2014, after a 17-month battle with the cancer that annually kills about 14,000 women.
On July 30, 2016, more than 400 people came out to support the 2nd Annual Sherri’s Walk by the Water, an event designed to raise funds that will help put an end to a disease that the American Cancer Society calls a silent killer.
“Our goal was to raise as much money as possible for ovarian cancer research initiatives,” explains Sherri’s daughter, Rachel Gendelman, who with her father, Bob, created the Sherri S. Gendelman Fund and organized Sherri’s Walk by the Water, which was hosted by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition this year.
Starting at 8 AM at Margate, New Jersey’s famous Lucy the Elephant national historic landmark, a sea of sweaty but determined supporters took a two-mile walk down the beach to the pier that Sherri and her family strolled to for decades. By 10 AM, they raised $79,149.
Scroll down for our interview with the friends and family members who are keeping Sherri’s memory alive through this annual event.
Be Inkandescent: Barbara, you and I were childhood friends, and I am so impressed with the work you have done creating your own remarkably successful video firm based in Philadelphia, BTK Communications Group. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend Sherri. Take us back to the beginning of this organization. How did it come to fruition?
Barbara Tarlow Radler: Bob and Rachel told me they had an idea to start a fund to raise money for clinical trials at Abington hospital — and help provide access to patients who couldn’t afford care.
Be Inkandescent: You must have been devastated by your loss. It’s so awful when our parents and grandparents pass, but to have a friend die must have been a blow beyond belief. Some of our readers may have struggled with similar grief.
Barbara Tarlow Radler: It’s definitely a process. And a year and a half later, I still can’t believe this happened. Sherri was my healthy friend who went to the gym every day. She was the best listener, never judged, and always made me feel like family. I remember going out for lunch with Bob several months after Sherri passed. I was thinking I should be cheering him up, and he said, “Man, you’re depressing.” He actually gave me his grief counseling papers and made me read up on them … and made me take the thousand pictures I had of her in my office and downsize to my two favorites … one day at a time. Now when I get my signals from her, I smile and think of the memories we shared. Yes, I still have my rough moments — and this is one of them … but I get a warm feeling in my heart, instead of that sick empty feeling every time I think of her.
Be Inkandescent: What I think is truly a testimony to Sherri is how you all banded together, gathered your personal strengths, and curated this event. Was the first one tough to create?
Barbara Tarlow Radler: Actually, for the first event, we were on a mission We had no idea what we were doing — we just jumped in. I knew I could produce a video to tell our story, but it was really Rachel, Bob, and Sue with the vision of the event, and how to fundraise. I just tried to help where I could.
Be Inkandescent: So how did the second event, on July 30, 2016, come to fruition?
Barbara Tarlow Radler: The second event was trickier. We all knew how hard the first event was, and we were all starting to heal a little bit, and the thought of doing it again felt very overwhelming … but I called Rachel and said, “Look, I understand if it’s too much — it feels overwhelming to me and your dad, Sue, and our friend Lori … we all were worried it would be too much — but whatever you decide, I am here to support you. And Rachel said, “I know it will be hard, but I want to do this.” And here we are.
Be Inkandescent: That brings us to you, Rachel. You are clearly a powerhouse when it comes to making things happen. Tell us a little about yourself — what you do for a living — and what you learned from your mom.
Rachel Gendelman: I currently live in Center City, Philadelphia, and I work for a healthcare company in sales covering the Southern New Jersey area. In my free time, aside from our mission on curing ovarian cancer, I enjoy volunteering with animals and spending time with friends and family. I learned so many things from my mom, and the older I get the more I start to see her ways in me — from being able to find the best deals when shopping, to my love for animals and music, to being extremely compassionate toward everyone I come in contact with.
She said to me the day before she was moved to hospice that you never know how strong you can be until faced with a challenge. Whether it was cancer, work challenges, or personal challenges, she reminded me that no matter how difficult something is, you are able to face it and deal with it. When she said this, she was talking about her 17-month battle with ovarian cancer, because she tried everything she possibly could to stay with us, and faced her fears and the unknown. Although it was not the outcome we wanted, she was able to get through the daily challenges she was faced with in those 17 months.
Be Inkandescent: Every mother who reads this knows that your mom is insanely proud of you. Does this event keep you closer to her? I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to move on from this loss. How are you doing?
Rachel Gendelman: It does. This event for me is about keeping my mom’s memory alive and at the same time helping thousands of patients, whether it’s in research, clinical trials, or patient assistance. I remember my mom telling me to keep her Facebook active and make sure that no one forgets about her. This is the best way for us to honor her memory and to shed light on a disease that most are not familiar with.
We are not only able to save patients through the funds we raise, but also by shedding that light on awareness/symptoms. Even though challenging, this event does make us feel good about helping people while keeping her name out there. Each day is still a bit like a roller coaster. Though it has almost been two years, we still take it day by day. It’s still very hard to believe and accept, but we keep moving forward and try to enjoy life the way she would want us to.
Be Inkandescent: Tell us more about the second annual walk. What are your hopes and goals from this year’s event?
Rachel Gendelman: Our first year doing the walk was such a success that we really wanted to be able to build on last year, meaning a reach of new people, raffles, a DJ, massages, two silent auctions, more participants, and the ability to raise more money!
The Sherri S. Gendelman Fund teamed up with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition this year, and we were able to make all of those things happen already! I hope that those who attended the event really took away the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. It is a disease that has a 90 percent, five-year survival rate when caught at an earlier stage. Last year alone, we were successful at explaining our mission and awareness, and we were able to help three people go to their doctors who were diagnosed with very early stages of ovarian cancer. One is now cancer free!
Be Inkandescent: Do you hope to host a third event next year? If so, what are your goals and expectations for that one?
Rachel Gendelman: I do. Each year I think emotionally it gets harder. This past year compared to our first year was very difficult for all of us. It starts to make you realize how long it’s been since my mom passed away and how long it has been since I have seen her or had a conversation with her, especially because I used to talk to her multiple times a day, every single day. But the event has been so successful that we are all excited to plan for our 3rd Annual Sherri’s Walk by the Water. My mom deserves to have this event, and those diagnosed with this disease deserve to have the treatment they need and advanced research towards finding a cure.
The expectation, in a sense, still says the same — continuing to build on what has been successful: the ability to reach more people, raise more money, and save lives while keeping my mom’s name out there. It has been amazing to see the ongoing support from friends, family, and even participants we did not know. We also had five ovarian cancer survivors attend the walk, which made it even more special.
Be Inkandescent: Let’s loop in your dad, Bob Gendelman. Bob, from your entrepreneurial perspective, what have you learned? And what would you have done differently knowing what you now know about creating a cancer fund, and hosting events like this one?
Bob Gendelman: Honestly, I would have stayed calmer through every step of the planning phase. As you can imagine, the year following Sherri’s death was very emotional for all of us. Tempers ran high, my internal micromanager took over, and I don’t think I was always on my best behavior. After doing this event two years in a row now, and seeing how successful we were in attracting people to participate and raising funds, I know that everything will be fine. That’s true for any event, and for life in general. I learned again not to sweat the small stuff.
Be Inkandescent: And I have to say to you, of course, how sorry I am for your loss. How are you coping? Does this walk help?
Bob Gendelman: It’s two years later and I sometimes wake up in the morning and I can’t believe this has happened. I try to keep myself busy and be there for Rachel the best I can. I try to be both the best dad and mom I can be for her, but knowing how close Sherri and Rachel were, that’s tough. So this Walk by the Water event for me is mixed; it definitely stirs up emotions that I’m trying to deal with.
But I’ll tell you, the high point was on what would have been Sherri’s 60th birthday, which was a really hard day — and, it was the day the fundraising for the Walk passed the $60,000 mark. I know everyone involved in the planning of this had the chills when that happened. What truly touches us is the outpouring of support. Sherri was worried people would forget, so when hundreds of people signed up and supported our cause in Sherri’s name, it does lift us up.
Be Inkandescent: Now let’s turn the discussion to Sue Epstein, who was a good friend of Sherri’s and took the lead on getting sponsors, as she had the most fundraising experience in the group — and also had the most friends in common with Sherri between their high school class, Zumba, and the Jersey Shore. What kinds of things are important when fundraising?
Sue Epstein: I always feel when people give to fundraising that people give to people, I think sometimes even more than to a cause — although it helps knowing that it’s good cause. Knowing the person who this is in memory or honor of makes it easier, too. The people I reached out to knew this was personal to me, and they knew Sherri and that helped. When they turn you down, just keep a smile on your face and don’t accept “no” for an answer — and eventually they will support your cause.
Be Inkandescent: What happened when you started reaching out to people to be sponsors for the first Walk by the Water? What was your strategy and what did you learn?
Sue Epstein: I knew I would do anything for Rachel, so of course I volunteered to be on the core planning team with Bob and Barbara. And I thought I would just do what I do and reach out to everyone I know. I also know that can be challenging because everyone has their own causes, and it can be awkward to ask people for money. But with all of my years working on fundraisers, I never had such an easy time raising money and finding sponsors. I think it was because to know Sherri was to love Sherri, and people just wanted to be a part of it and support our cause in her name.
Be Inkandescent: What was the second year like for you? Was it harder? What advice would you have for other people trying to start a fund or hold an event?
Sue Epstein: Yes, it was harder the second year. In my opinion the first year is the easiest because you strike when the iron is hot. Especially when it’s in memory of someone who passes, everyone is mourning and remembering and they jump to give. The second year, people may not be as apt to give as much as they did initially because they have gotten busy with their lives. So you have to be persistent, and eventually they will get back on board. But it’s definitely harder as time goes on.
It’s also important that they believe in the cause — and knowing that ovarian cancer can touch so many women and their families means so much to so many. And in this case, I think it helped that a nice portion of the money stayed local … our local people loved that.
Be Inkandescent: Vanda Soldati, let’s turn to you. You are the Delaware Valley chapter manager from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition who worked on the 2016 walk with Sherri’s team. Tell us about the statistics.
Vanda Soldati: The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, more than 21,000 women in the United States received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and at least 14,000 U.S. women died from it. In fact, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100.
Be Inkandescent: From your perspective, why is ovarian cancer still such a problem for so many women?
Vanda Soldati: It’s because the symptoms are nonspecific, and there is a lack of early-detection tests. Women need to look for things like bloating, urinating frequently, getting full quickly, and abdominal or lower back pain, which are symptoms that all women experience at one time or another. Therefore, only about 20 percent of cases are diagnosed early. The key here is to pay attention if these symptoms persist for more two weeks. Since early detection is critical to survival rates, this is the challenge. So knowing this, and alerting your doctor if you experience these symptoms, is essential.
Be Inkandescent: In addition to fundraising and awareness events like Sherri’s Walk by the Water, what is being done to cure this disease?
Vanda Soldati: Remember, the five-year survival rate is high when the cancer is found in its early stages, which is why funding is needed to find early diagnostic tools. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition is proud to support Sherri’s Walk by the Water because money raised will be going directly to NOCC research initiatives in conjunction with Stand Up to Cancer research initiatives. We are excited because a portion of the money will be going to the Sherri S. Gendelman Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, which is local to our NOCC chapter.
In fact, Stand Up to Cancer team leader Dr. Alan D’Andrea says, “We now see defective DNA repair as a more general vulnerability of ovarian cancer. We hope to extend the use of PARP inhibitors to many other patients and find combinations with other drugs that will be effective against ovarian cancer.”
Be Inkandescent: What do you want all of our readers, listeners, and viewers to do to help spread the word?
Vanda Soldati: I’d ask everyone to go to our website, Ovarian.org, where they can see our upcoming events and contribute to and join the fight against ovarian cancer.
For more information about the Sherri S. Gendelman Fund, visit SSGfund.org.
There is little success where there is little laughter.”
Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what nurtures creative thinking.”
Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop
We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”
The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”
President Calvin Coolidge
Entrepreneurs willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets.”
When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”
When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
Do not be afraid of mistakes, providing you do not make the same one twice.”
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”
The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”
Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!”
Madam C.J. Walker
The person who makes a success of living is the one who see his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”
Cecil B. DeMille
My task is really not to change myself but to become familiar with who I am.”
Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost.”
Robert H. Schuller
Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
The best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”
Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”
If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
Are you willing to help other people succeed even when it’s not a requirement of your job to be of assistance?”
I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”
Whosoever knows how to fight well is not angry. Whosoever knows how to conquer enemies does not fight them.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”
Lisa Earle McLeod
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
If you do not tell the truth about yourself , you cannot tell it about other people.”
Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business — with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.”
Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these,’ for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Part of your destiny is to live in the zone of maximum satisfaction.”
If you would create something, you must be something.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Friendship is the only cement that will hold the world together.”
Why am I whispering when I have something to say?”
The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”
Letting go of expectations is a ticket to peace. It allows us to ride over every crisis—small or large—like a beach ball on water.”
Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
Leon Joseph Suenens
Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.”
The only dream worth having is to live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead.”
Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.”
A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”
Don’t follow, lead. Don’t copy, create. Don’t start, finish. Don’t sit still, move. Don’t fit in, stand out. Don’t sit quietly, speak up. (Not all the time, sure, but more often.)”
Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make Me Feel Important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Mary Kay Ash
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
“It’s not the size of the contribution that matters,” explains author Wendy Smith, who for more than two decades has worked in the nonprofit world. “What matters are the outcomes your giving produces.”
“A leader must subjugate his or her own desires and interests in order to become the servant of one’s followers. We need to give back in order to get more,” says Angela Sontheimer, managing director of Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg.
“Don’t be afraid to adjust your business plan when circumstances make it necessary,” says Muhammad Yunus. “But to avoid becoming purely reactive, flitting from one program to the next, always remember the central goal for which you established the social business in the first place.”
“Don’t try to reinvent philanthropy. Just as there are too many nonprofits duplicating services, there are too many corporations and foundations duplicating philanthropic efforts,” says author Robert Egger.
“We’ve all seen the research about how kids are not being taught history effectively, and with that comes the tendency to slough it off,” says David Bruce Smith, which is why he founded an organization to change that.
Jeffery Holmes began researching how exercise could lessen the impact of PD, and found out that boxing, cycling, and yoga have been proven to lessen the effects as a single sport workout. He started putting his Dad through his paces, and today is helping to spread the word to help others fight back, too.
“My vision was to create a community of women for women, who can help one another succeed; a place where women support each other, and where others can hear the stories these women tell,” says Marga Fripp. “A place where the American Dream lives on, and everyone feels welcome and at home.*