When cancer strikes, patients need the love and support of their families. But what if the only cancer treatment available is far from home? How can families find the housing and support they need?
The answer is A Shelter for Cancer Families (ASCF), an organization you can support when you purchase tickets to the Sienna Plantation Sip & Stroll Thursday, Nov. 15, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Previously known as The Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation, the organization has been providing hope and tangible support as well as a “home away from home” to hundreds of families affected by cancer for nearly 20 years.
“We need the support of those we love when we are sick,” said Missy Amschwand Bellinger, co-founder of the organization.“A Shelter for Cancer Families programs are designed with the goal of keeping families together and focused on one another. Our cancer navigators, free short-term housing and cancer family celebrations all focus on just that — giving families more quality time together.”
Bellinger and her husband Tom founded the organization after he was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer. Tom saw a need for better awareness and research funding for rare cancers like sarcoma, as well as improved support for families seeking cancer care in Houston at the Texas Medical Center. Tragically, Tom passed away in 2001, but Missy has continued the work they started together.
“The families whom we serve often need to come to the Texas Medical Center on a moment’s notice,” Bellinger said. “They have very little advance notice to find a new place to live in Houston’s Medical Center. Housing is something that ASCF can do. We know that the families we serve need to be near the hospitals and specialists who provide their specialty cancer care.”
In addition to providing free short-term housing to families regardless of age, cancer type, treatment status or income, ASCF volunteers help families navigate the cancer landscape. They also help families celebrate what is important to them, whether it is a birthday, anniversary, wedding, holiday, first-day-of-school or "ringing the bell" to signify the end of treatment.
Funds raised from Sip & Stroll will be used to advance the mission of ASCF. The signature event celebrates local food and libations. It will take place at the beautiful Sawmill Lake Club, 10323 Mount Logan, where local restaurants will offer a variety of menu items, wine and beer.
Tickets are $65 — $20 of which will be donated to A Shelter for Cancer Families. Tickets include all food and drinks as well as a ‘smores bar and music. Guests must be 21+ to participate.
Bellinger is grateful for the support of the Sienna Plantation community of which she also is a resident.
“I feel blessed to live in Sienna where I see community values put into action every day,” she said. “As a ‘bedroom community’ to the Texas Medical Center, Sienna is a convenient home to many of our doctors, nurses, health care professionals, volunteers and also to some of the cancer families we serve.”