When I was diagnosed with this gnarly, highly aggressive, advanced & luckily CURABLE type of cancer, my friends and family stepped up unlike anything I have ever witnessed, never mind experienced first hand.
I could write a book to share the acts of kindness, selfless-ness, love and support my tribe has shined in my direction since Day One.
It has been one year, and to this day, we still receive the most thoughtful packages and cards (over 500 cards received!) in the mail, flowers to brighten our home, and the phone calls, Marco Polos (video messages), and check-in texts never stop. I PROMISE you, they keep me going - no matter how simple or small they may seem. I deeply believe if I am a success story at the end of this journey, so much of my survival and success is owed to the support I’ve received by my tribe.
I was determined to find the best in the business when it came to cancer treatment; and it just so happens that Dana Farber Cancer Institute is 30 miles from my parents house. Yes, this was some good luck I found in the pile of “shit” that seemed to intercept my life on December 20, 2017. So, I decided leaving Colorado, temporarily, to live with my parents and to be close to Dana Farber would give me the optimal chance of winning this overwhelming battle. It was so hard to leave Colorado, and the people who I now consider to be family. After all, I lived there on and off for 20+ years! But, I knew my people would always be considered family no matter how far away I was - so, I packed up and left home- to go home- to Boston, to get cured.
Dana Farber’s World Renowned Chief of Women’s Cancers, Dr. Eric Winer, told me at my first appointment that they were going to “throw the kitchen sink at me - giving me every possible remedy and intervention possible - because I had "the most aggressive kind of breast cancer one can have, and I was young, and he believed in me”. With that, I decided I needed to give this "most aggressive cancer treatment regime" my ALL. My focus and intention HAD to be dedicated to beating cancer. My other dreams and priorities had to be put on pause, so that saving my life could be #1. Sadly, I left my job in Denver and decided every ounce of energy needed to be redirected towards a cure - so that I would have the best chance of survival; and one day thrive again.
I have always worked. I wasn’t a teenager yet when I had my first tomato stand at the end of my driveway, until I was old enough to work at the family business. I’d stand on a milk crate so I could reach the cash register with my grandmothers guidance behind me. Having a strong work ethic is just in my blood. I love to work. I really, really love to work. So, not working while undergoing cancer treatment has been really, really hard for me - and another loss. I put my passion and my all into my work - no matter what it is. But I knew the treatment would give me side effects, and fatigue, and would require my availability to show up at every-single-appointment. My energy needed to be focused on getting to every doctor appointment, cooking ketogenic/organic, walking, resting, and there needed to be room to grieve in order to make room to surround myself with rainbow light - full of curable intentions. In order to do all of this while not working, I still needed to somehow pay for it all.
A few people have joked with me about "how nice it must be to not be working, and how much 'free time' I have." That couldn’t be further from the truth. To date, I have been to over 402 cancer related/medical appointments. My drives into Boston are just like a working person’s commute to the city, daily. My LIFE revolves around doctor appointments now and navigating the tricky setbacks of cancer. Luckily, I've been joined by lots of loved ones driving and sitting through these over 400 appointments...
So, a few friends rallied like no other - bringing their creativity, love, heart, passion, (and serious dance moves), to create the most amazing Halloween Spooktacular FUNraiser for me on October 19, 2018- like a boss!
When the idea was shared with me, I initially didn’t think I needed nor wanted the financial help. My ego got in the way. To be honest, I didn’t know how to be the recipient of such abundance of generosity. I wanted to be the giver, not on the receiving end. To me, giving has always filled my cup - not receiving. But, the more time went by and the more bills piled up from multiple Naturopaths, Acupuncture, Vitamin C IVs, insurance, copays, supplements, fertility treatments and procedures, and then the normal everyday stuff we all need to get by (food, transportation, etc)… I realized how helpful a FUNraiser would be for me. I’d have to “get over” the ego stuff, and let my friends do what they do best - organize a party!
Those 402 appointments (I counted in my calendar) all led to EXORBITANT expenses. But, I kept hearing how well I was doing despite how aggressive this treatment plan really is. So, every time I have questioned if another Vitamin C IV, or another supplement, or more organic food is really worth it - I just keep hearing the voice “Do Everything You Can”. So, that is what I have done.
Thanks to the masterminds of Melissa (Missy) Cohen-Brown (a Marshfield bestie), Laura Blumberg (my second Godmother), Gail Hunter (my second “Mamacita”), Crystal Hurley (Seoane family best friend), Robin Alger and Kim Arouca (local family friends) - through their creative genius - they were able to pull off the most successful, creative, fun, EPIC Halloween FUNraiser party for me!!! Over 200 people attended and it has taken this long for all of the love and appreciation to truly sink in from the aftermath of such a beautiful event.
Haddad’s Ocean Cafe in Marshfield was the perfect size and space for the night. They served delicious food apps (donated by Mom and Dad - Lou and Jane Seoane). And, a cash bar kept the crowd from going thirsty. Lou Seoane’s best friend, Jack Hurley, was the MC and nailed it (of course he did). Thank you Jack - it was so meaningful to see YOU up there hyping up the crowd!!!
There was a lavish raffle table and I was BLOWN AWAY by the raffle items that were donated!!! Patriots tickets, Bruins and Penguins hockey jerseys, a Bruins hockey stick, local restaurant gift cards (Riva, Rivershed, and Tosca), Squid Ink Tattoo gift card, Bottoms Up Detail gift card, Sunday River accommodations, a golf foursome, Lash Bar gift card, autographed baseball, paintings by Jackson, Miller, Leonard, and Lou Seoane, a Donna Green autographed children's book and painting, and various Sonos/Bose speakers. Just unbelievable generosity from every one of you who donated these items - I thank you so very, very much!!!
Volunteers put together the most ELABORATE, beautiful gift baskets that were used as raffle gifts. Thank you Crystal Hurley & friends for working your magic on this mission! They were given out throughout the night & they were like the icing on the cake as those who won them left with a piece of handcrafted love made by my friends.
The hall was decorated in a beautiful Fall/Halloween theme, complete with a makeshift photo booth! Decorations were donated by Seoane Landscape, and created by Vicki Hurcombe. Thank you Vick!!! You always come up with the most creative masterpieces! And thank you Laura Blumberg as I know your hands were working their magic on this side of the project! Amazing.
Turns out, if you want to make a party even MORE fun - say that costumes are “optional” and get a DJ. We had the most epic dance off that went all night long - as Marilyn Monroe twirled across the dance floor...
with a 6 ft “baby” wearing onesie pjs...
And, of course Sandy and Danny from Greece did not stop all night long with many, many superheroes surrounding them!
There is something that brings out the alter ego when you get in costume…
...something my friends and I have always done in Vail, Colorado while skiing. So, in a way it felt like a piece of Colorado was with us in Marshfield that night.
I dressed up as Poison Ivy from Batman since I've battled the relationship with chemo, aka "poison" all these months - I thought the twist made sense. Poison Ivy used her poison to make herself powerful. A stretch for my situation, but, worked.
Joey Toppan, a fellow MHS ’99 graduate, had a smile on her face the whole damn night and somehow managed to snap away 100s of the best epic photos to capture the fiesta.
Thank you so much Joey… you’ve got some mad photography skills and I will always be able to go back and remember this night because you put it to pictures! How did you know candid shots are my favorite!?!
My singing childhood friend Lady Amy Stankewicz got up and sang my favorite song from A Star is Born, and then dragged me up with her to sing “You Gotta Laugh A Little…”.. a song she and I sang as we skipped to the bars when living in Santa Barbara together years ago (true story from our more wild days).
My Dad, Lou Seoane, always has a way with his speeches and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd, sprinkled with laughter, when he got up to share his thanks and experience. We all know he is the best story teller, and his indian headdress pulled it all together perfectly.
Between donations mailed before the event, collected entry fees at the door of the event (thank you Haleigh and friends for greeting everyone!!), raffle items, donations mailed out post event, and additions to the GoFundMe site that my friend Kate Bever organized for me - in total, the Halloween Spooktacular raised over $23,000!!!! That is $23k going DIRECTLY into the fund to help Jenna-Kick-Cancers-Ass! Financially, cancer could have and would have wiped me out. This event helped take away that extra edge of stress from me. My worried thoughts settled a little bit now that I had some funds to keep me keeping on.
I am beyond blown away by all of you who showed up, and for those of you who donated to me. So many Marshfield High School classmates, loyal Seoane Landscape employees and customers, family, family friends, their friends, new and old neighbors, friends from out of state, even strangers. WOAH!
Many days after the event I received donations from those who were unable to attend. Please know how filled with gratitude, and how rejoiced with a sense of human kindness I was when I opened your cards. I truly know, and appreciate with all I got - what having a tribe means now.
This night was beyond anything I could have imagined, and the amount of money that was donated is beyond any amount of generosity and heart I could imagine. It has been so helpful to me so I can continue to focus on fighting. From the bottom of my heart, to everyone who was a part of this event in anyway they could be - thank you.
Cancer has taught me some shit hard lessons along the way - but what outshines everything is I’ve been reminded that good exists and humans are beautiful. Every damn penny is going towards my CURE. Thank you all so very much.