Friday, May 1, 2009

Building Resources In Cancer Knowledge & Services

or BRICKS for short.

My name is Charissa, a lot of you know that already, but for those of you who dont allow me to introduce myself. Im a 33 year old mother, women's healthcare worker, sometimes photographer and music maker, and perhaps most importantly- a widow. My husband Rick passed away on March 17, 2009 of Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the tender age of 31.

In the 3 short years I spent with Rick I learned a lot about cancer, the injustices of our healthcare system, and how few resources are dedicated to addressing the basic needs (and ultimately the survival rates) of young adults diagnosed with cancer in their 20s and 30s. After Rick's passing I knew that we had worked too hard for too long for me to keep all the little bits of knowledge I had learned to myself. My desire to help young adults with cancer did not end when Rick's life did, but rather was fueled by it- I knew that now more than ever I needed to dedicate the exhausted and frazzled remains of myself to fighting this fight, and that by doing so I could make something positive come out of this experience. One key lesson that I learned from my husband was that every experience, even the negative ones, had value. They can all teach you something if you let them. This is to be no exception.

And so, over the last 6 weeks and 3 days, BRICKS was formed.

The name probably matters only to those of us who knew Rick, and maybe even fewer of us who were privy to the stories of his childhood. He liked to tell a story of how one summer he spent the days moving roughly a ton of bricks from one side of his parents yard to the other. It seemed like a tedious task, laboring in the sun, brick by brick, back and forth. He could see no real reason for the task, yet still felt accomplished at its completion. Maybe thats the lesson for those of us who are faced with a cancer diagnosis- there may be no reason why, but the dedication to seeing it through is the ultimate accomplishment. Maybe it is only later that we realize the lesson we were to learn.

So, now begins my task- brick by brick building a structure to support young adults in my community. The details of my goals and objectives will be discussed over the next several weeks, and I hope that you will stick with me. I look forward to the great potential in this effort, and know that through my actions I am making my husband immensely proud. There is so much work to do, and I only hope to rise to the challenge.


  1. truly inspiring concept, dedication, and expression, charissa. I hope I can offer some for of help, in whatever way, even if that's simply support.


  2. i am immensely proud of you too. let me know how i can be of help. dana

  3. thanks guys.

    dana- you are a reason why this exists, you know? im looking forward to talking to you about what this group can do.

  4. This is SUCH an important project! I think that young people will feel less alone and will have more info to deal with what they're going through because of this project. That's HUGE. You already know that I'm in. -Jude