I can not say enough about the mission, drive, and importance of ASCF. Being a two-time cancer survivor myself, I know first hand the trials and tribulations of navagating a diagnosis & treatment. I am blessed to live less than 5 miles from MD Anderson and am heartbroken when I hear of the extra burden families in treatment endure by being removed from their homes and communities. The overwhelming expense of hotels and the daunting experience of navigating the whole process from diagnosis to treatment on your own. The expense of a diagnosis can be financially devastating and I am proud that so many families have been served by ASCF's generosity. The Navigator Program is essential to patients upon diagnosis and treatment and helps ease the overwhelming process of an illness by providing a support person to help navigate the patient and their family through doctor visits and treatment plans. ASCF provides tremendous support in all of those areas allowing the patient and their families to catch their breath and focus on health & healing. I am honored and proud to be a part of ASCF and the amazing people who have founded it and run it makes me certain that it will continue to support those in need and provide a ray of light and hope to a diagnosis & struggle.
When I first met Missy I knew nothing about Sarcoma at all but was onboard with whatever she needed because I was moved by her passion and immediate willingness to connect and help those who suffer from this cancer. She inspired me to get involved and her courage to dedicate time to help patients and families was inspiring. Little did I know that almost 5 years after meeting her I would be diagnosed with Sarcoma myself. I was blessed with knowing exactly who to call and ASCF was by my side every step of the way.
I am such a believer of this foundation and their message. Their message is clear and the help they provide to patients and their families is wonderful! I can not say enough good things about Missy, the board and those who support and are supported by ASCF. It is a "great nonprofit" and I urge everyone to became a part of it and share in the joy of helping others that Missy has taught me so well.
I suffered a relapse of my Ewing's sarcoma in May of 2019 after being cancer free for 13 years. Upon receiving the devastating news, I immediately contacted Missy from A Shelter for Cancer Families to seek many forms of guided help. As expected, I was in shock with the news and had no idea what I would need as I started the cancer journey all over again. She quickly came up to the hospital to serve as a navigator for my family. She and the ASCF team anticipated the greatest areas of need for our family and diligently created a plan of action to assist us. ASCF came up with #TeamNowell campaign which helped raise funds from the community to fulfill needs such as housekeeping, child care, grocery shopping, and lawn care. ASCF has gone over and beyond our expectations and has greatly lessen the financial and emotional burden that cancer causes. They have not only helped me as an individual by providing navigation services but also as a family with their assistance in grocery shopping and meal planning for our entire household. We are so grateful for their help and support during this season of life.
I am the Director of Marketing for Sienna by Johnson Development. The co-founder and much of the staff for A Shelter for Cancer Families live in the community, and this year, my team got behind their "Go Gold" effort to help generate awareness of childhood cancer. As a sponsor, I witnessed ASCF President + CEO Missy Bellinger taking calls from ASCF families who were learning more about loved one's diagnosis; those calls took immediate priority over anything else that was happening. I've seen the passion for the mission in action as our conference room was transformed into ASCF Go Gold merchandise headquarters, humming with volunteers + supporters. I've seen images of ASCF beneficiaries in display banners and social media, and read the touching comments of love and support from Missy and the staff. I've met ASCF families whose loved ones "found their healing in heaven." The work of this organization is profound and important, and the spirit of the volunteers is unstoppable.
After my sarcoma diagnosis, I was unsure what to do. My daughter contacted Missy at ASCF. Missy counseled me and made arrangements for me to see an oncologist at MD Anderson. She attended our first appointment, helped us navigate MDA, and took notes. Since that time, she had been an encourager. I feel God placed her in our life to help us deal with our difficult situation.
ASCF has been an absolute GODSEND for our family!!
My wife was diagnosed with lymphoma in August of 18 which shook our world!!
We were running through $1000 a week on hotels as we were told she would need to be at MD Anderson while going through treatment.
Long story short, ASCF made the IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE!! I was able to care for my wife while running our business remotely....We couldn’t have done it without them!!
From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!! You Guy’s are doing Gods work and have forever changed our lives! You took us in and celebrated every milestone with us! We Love All of you and can only hope we are in the position to help in the future!! We are forever grateful!!
John Austin & Elizabeth Tatum
I was looking forward to meeting ASCF team over Easter. I wanted to express my gratitude for their generosity, for the wonderful apartment that is just so welcoming and so close to MD Anderson, where I am treated for the pancreatic cancer. However, when they arrived with chocolate Easter eggs, girl scout cookies and Easter cards I felt speechless. So many emotions were going through my heart. Seeing the volunteers and especially children made me feel like I am close to my family again, as my grandchild and daughter live in Europe. I was overwhelmed and flooded with gratitude. Thank you ASCF. Natalya Goncharova
A Shelter for Cancer Families is the most amazing organization. We live in California and came to Houston so that my sister could receive treatment in a clinical trial. The apartment provided to us is amazing, and has everything we need for my sister's comfort. We feel so blessed to be here as living out of suitcases and going from hotel to hotel was very taxing. In addition to this beautiful home, we were visited by volunteers at Easter and received special treats. On Easter Sunday (my sister's 70th birthday) we got another visit from very caring volunteers with a birthday cake and presents!
To everyone involved in this organization, we send you our love and heartfelt thanks for giving us safe shelter!
Lesley Wilson and Natalya Goncharova
A Shelter for Cancer Families is a one-of-a kind foundation. As a physician in the Texas Medical Center, I have referred patients who are traveling from out-of-state to receive treatment for their cancers. It is a stressful time for them. ASCF offers a families a home away from home- a "shelter"- that does not look or feel like another hospital or hotel room. Jen and Missy and the staff are extremely personable, helpful, and will go out of their way to accommodate our patients. I can't say enough good things about the services that ASCF provides to guide and support our cancer families. Their model of care is unique and effective. Kudos to ASCF!
In the course of just 2 days our lives were turned upside down when my 4 year old grandson, Thomas, was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma. The treatment plan included photon radiation and chemo. My daughter and son-in-law did some in-depth research and discovered the benefits of Proton therapy. So, they decided to leave Colorado and head to Houston for an eight-week regiment of Proton therapy. What a confusing time! It was like stepping off a cliff and hoping that you'd learn to fly asap.
Of course, finding housing in Houston was an immediate need and I began to contact apartment complexes and charity organizations. We were incredibly grateful and relieved when Jen responded within just a few hours and we ended up moving into our apartment at the Equinox the next day! We were absolutely stunned when we walked in the door... the apartment was beautiful and so much more than we could have ever imagined. It is an amazingly warm and therapeutic space and we immediately felt at home. The Shelter for Cancer Families organization had thought of everything from "starter food" to games to books to artwork and more. On February 14 after an especially grueling day at the hospitals, we arrived home to a Valentine's day celebration! The apartment was decorated for the holiday and there were cards from area children, flowers, plates/napkins, and the most gorgeous cake that we had ever seen! The whole experience left us in tears.
Tomorrow is Thomas's final Proton Treatment that will include the ceremonial ringing-of-the-Gong, which is a lovely tradition at the Proton Center. And guess who is going to be there to help us celebrate?? yep, Jen and a crew of her volunteers! What an incredibly thoughtful way to honor Thomas!
In a couple of days we will begin the long journe back to Colorado. And, we will be leaving Houston a little bit wiser and stronger for what is still to come. We can't thank Jen and the Shelter for Cancer Families enough for caring for us during this stressful time. They absolutely have helped to give us the wings that we'll need for the next part of our journey. Thank you from the bottom of hearts!!
Just a few words of thanks to you (Jen Berko) and A Shelter for Cancer Families for the beautiful and upscale apartment you provided for us during our crucial time of need. It is absolutely beautiful, much more than we imagined or expected!
The living area is spacious and comfortable. We leave the blinds open all day just to look over the beautiful pool. Reminds me of a resort hotel! Hopefully, we’ll get to use it in April. I’m enjoying the convenient office area fitted for me. And, although I never leave home without my Holy Bible and inspirational books, I find there is a great selection of encouraging literature right at the tip of my hands! Albert takes his “blanket” to hospital, too. Keeps him warm all day!
It gives me pleasure to look over the great artwork of children who have stayed here before us. The dining room area is enjoyed with every meal. Didn’t want to scratch the table more, so I placed a tablecloth over it. That’s our favorite meeting place.
The kitchen area is absolutely gorgeous! I’m enjoying preparing meals for Albert, as he can’t seem to develop a taste for fast food, yet. And, I’m making him soft foods that he can swallow without too much pain. The fridge is perfect size and I bought enough food for 2 months only. Thanks to the foods left in the fridge and pantry, we don’t have to buy much.
So glad to have a washer and dryer! Although, I didn’t mind, other lodging places have laundry rooms outside of apartment for the use of all residents. We often wait in line to do our laundry. It’s so convenient here! And, thank you for soaps and softeners provided. We usually bring our own linens, towels and sheets, so others can enjoy the ones you provide.
Albert is enjoying the beautiful bedroom. I sleep on the couch wherever we go, so as not to disturb his sleep. I check on him often to make sure he’s still breathing, as that becomes a problem with throat cancer. And, the closets are spacious enough for all our garments and suitcases. We decided not to unpack everything. Our stay is so short wherever we go. So, we’re kind of living out of our suitcases. We’re just glad to have such a great place to stay.
I just started using the fitness center this week. We’d been so busy with treatments and other medical appointments. His last treatment is Saturday. At my age, I can’t do too much exercising. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders, knee cartilage surgery on both knees and surgery for a broken arm. So, I can’t use treadmill, anymore. But, I can use the stationery bike for about an hour daily. I get to relax from all the stress, exercise to help my joints and muscles, and pray over all the worry, fears and concerns. I feel humbled and so richly blessed! The shower and bathroom are so appealing! Relaxing & enjoyable! Enjoying all the toiletries provided.
Covered parking is great! Albert walks for exercise. But, he takes the complex map to find his way back. It’s an absolute maze! We laugh about it all the time. He carries his phone just in case he gets lost. I do too. Thank you for all your help and support! And, making our stay in Houston a lot more pleasant.
But, your help didn’t start there. It began with our application to ASFC. Your responded with an offer to serve as a navigator for us. Being new to cancer treatment, we didn’t know how navigation worked. Jen, you approached us in a special kind of way that made us trust and feel comfortable with you. It was as though we had just found a great new friend! Your explanation of how navigation works seemed most appropriate for us. First, you wanted to know all about our journey with cancer, the diagnosis, and treatment plan. With this information in hand, you became a participant in our meetings with all our doctors. You listened intently and took great notes. With your expertise, you asked the proper questions. Sometimes, questions that we had overlooked or not even thought of! You were assertive but respectful to the medical staff at all times. I was delighted to hear the fast tapping of your fingers on the keyboard. I knew you were a highly skilled professional! I was overwhelmed with the final transcription and reports you sent me by email. Your notes were literally verbatim! And, I shared them with my daughters who are out of town. Your reports gave them a better understanding of the medical procedures and treatment plan. They couldn’t be thankful enough! I kept them for record keeping. I felt no need for my personal tape recorder, anymore! Your note taking was better! ASFC provides a service that is absolutely necessary to cancer patients and their families. It helps make the whole tragic process just a little easier. I highly recommend navigation to everyone!
God bless every one of you at ASFC for your outstanding work and compassion. I pray that your organization will receive 100-fold blessings, financial support and funding to continue to help other cancer patients and their families. Thank you for a great job! From our hearts to yours with love – Janie & Albert Montez
ASCF has been a Godsend for my husband and me. My husband was diagnosed with myelofibrosis and needed a bone marrow transplant. We live more than 200 miles from Houston. We desperately needed to find a place to stay as his treatment required staying in Houston and close to MDA for more than 4 months. We contacted ASCF through the internet and received a quick response from Jennifer. She is a gift! We could not have found a better organization to help put our minds at ease at such a difficult time. ASCF has helped us in so many ways. Their heartfelt concern, love and assistance has been never ending and we will always be grateful to them. This is truly an outstanding organization! We are blessed to have their help and to be touched by so many loving souls.
I was given the opportunity to connect a friend’s family to ASFCF when they were headed into MD Anderson for what they thought would be treatment for a tumor in their 2yr old that had not responded to treatment out of town where they live. I called Jen and she stepped into action. This is the last text I received from the friend. Thank you all!!
I was diagnose with Aggressive Fibromatosis in my abdomen in 2016. I was seeing a doctor in our home state of South Carolina, that wasn't treating my cancer the way that the research was saying it should be treated. I had a friend who's son was seeing an oncologist at Texas Children's Hospital at the time, so I reached out to her. After a nice talk, she got me in touch with Missy (CEO and Founder of ASCF). After sharing my concerns and my cancer information with her, she got in touch with a friend and found me a doctor, without me even having to worry about it. Once I had set up my appointments, I realized we would be driving a thousand miles away to see a Sarcoma Oncologist and we would need to stay for a week. Missy helped me fill out the paperwork and accepted me, my husband, our daughters, and my grandmother to stay in one of the foundations apartments. After our long drive, we arrived at the apartment and it was beautiful! Nothing big or extravagant, but perfect for our family to stay in for the week. We had plenty of room for the five of us. Missy was amazing and made herself available for any questions or help that we needed. She told us where to find the best brisket and where the nearest stores were. We have been blessed to get to know her and Jen, now. We love them like our own family and have been so blessed to have them in our lives. We are so blessed to have such amazing people and wonderful foundation help us during this tough time. It has been almost two years (coming up this February) and we still can't thank them enough for all they do for us. We have a stay coming up in March and as always, we look forward to seeing them and staying in the apartment. They truly are a blessing to the cancer community! We love them and appreciate all their hard work and support that they have done for us to be able to stay through the foundation.
I don't even know where to begin . . . .My daughter-in-law of three years was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had taken us two years to diagnose. We/They headed to MD Anderson as fast as we could. She began treatments every other week so that meant they were commuting 7 hours every other week and staying 3-4 days. My husband and I were able to help with hotel bills, but we could see that we would eventually need to find a place for them to stay on a more permanent basis. That time came much sooner than we thought. At our last visit, they said she would need to be there every week because the additional treatment they were going to administer, would be weekly and would make her very ill.
Through nothing other than answered prayer, friends came forward and told us about this incredible organization. I have volunteered for many organizations and actually worked at two non-profits in my city (Abilene, Texas) but I have never seen anything like this. The staff is so dedicated and so unbelievably kind. Missy and Jen along with a board member from ASCF came to our rescue, took our numerous calls and emails with a welcoming, warmth that I have never experienced anywhere else.
My "kids" are there now. (late 30's) They said the apartment is so nice and truly feels like a home. It is clean but not sterile. We couldn't have asked for more and as I said before, we thank God for these wonderful people everyday.
ASCF gave us that sense of feeling at home; which is essential during difficult times. The apartment was clean, comfortable and the welcome bag was such a thoughtful gift.
We unexpectedly had to stay longer than anticipated, and ASCF (specifically Jen) was so amazing in working it out for us to stay longer. Her kindness and understanding meant a lot to us. Traveling to Houston had a significant financial impact on our family, so being able to not worry about housing was a HUGE relief! Thank you ASCF for making our difficult stay easier.
I had to travel to Houston for medical care, which was an unfamiliar big city to me. Besides the usual stress of finding the way around a bustling city, I had to deal with the fact that I was sick. In a time like that, a person desires comfort of things like home as well as assistance about the community. ASCF provided all of this to me and was beyond accommodating. The apartment was well decorated and stocked with some “extras” including essentials I thought I would have to go to the store to buy. Everything was clean and decorated with personal touches. Parking was very easy and not far. When I needed to communicate some details with ASCF, they (Jen) were very easy to reach. Thank you so much for providing myself and my caretaker with a place to stay while we visited MD Anderson. The heartfelt generousity of this organization will never be forgotten by myself and my family. I hope ASCF is able to continue serving those who need this service.
A Shelter for Cancer Families is one of a kind. No other foundation offers complimentary housing, complimentary navigation (note taking at doctor appointments), and complimentary celebrations for cancer families. I was first drawn into the foundation as a volunteer and later as the manager of cancer families and media relations.
I began volunteering for ASCF on a regular basis when I saw that this foundation provided complimentary housing in the Texas Medical Center. My mother-in-law battled cancer and refused to leave her home in Long Island, New York to travel to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The trip was just too much for her while she was sick. It was devastating to our family. When she passed away our family was left with "what if's". If a foundation like ASCF had provided complimentary housing to our family, who knows what kind of treatment she would have had access to. In her honor I serve A Shelter for Cancer Families.
After volunteering for ASCF for several years, I was asked to join the foundation full time. I truly believe I was meant for this service. Every single day I honor my mother-in-law by helping cancer families; not just patients. If my mother-in-law had the services we provide she would have had a place to stay with her family, access to the very best care, loving volunteers to celebrate the holidays with her, a navigator to take notes so that she could easily share her treatment journey with her family, and most of all she would have had tangible and meaningful support during her darkest times. Every person deserves dignity and support while battling cancer. A Shelter for Cancer Families provides just that. I am proud to serve each and every day through A Shelter for Cancer Families and I highly recommend this foundation.
A Shelter for Cancer Families
Manager of Cancer Families & Media Relations
The ASCF apartment is beautiful, along with the amenities in and out of the apartment. Everything you would need to live comfortably is provided. The swimming pool/jacuzzi/lounge/ bbq area was awesome!! The gym is open 24hrs along with the rec Center with pool table, TVs, sitting area and free coffee/tea.
This non profit organization blesses families with these apartments and the families should maintain it better. In my apartment the sofas were so dirty with food and drink stains, as if they just wiped their hands on them, I couldn’t even sit on them. The dining room chairs cushions were just as bad , if not worse. Underneath the sofas and bed there was trash like it was never swept. These are messes made by the families NOT by ASCF.
Families when you are given a gift, you cherish, appreciate and take care of it, so others can do the same. I give ASCF 5 stars cause I could see the love behind their gift inspite of the irresponsibility of some families. Thank you ASCF for your gracious gift.
When we found out that my 10 year old had relapsed with osteosarcoma wey were devastated. We had to leave our home 6 hours away to come get new treatment that required us to stay in the area. This put so much stress on Victor and our family since we knew we had to come back to living in hotels, checking in and out constantly, packing and moving our stuff from one place to another. We found out about this amazing organization ASCF and couldn't believe what I was reading. We applied a day before we left home and we received the unexpected phone call from Jennifer that she could get us into an apartment the same day. Wow!! "What a relief" is short for what we actually felt. My husband, younger son and myself were all sleeping in the same couch at the hospital because we couldn't afford a hotel. We received more than expected and Jennifer made sure we had everything we needed. She went above and beyond explaining what they are here for and how they can help us in any way possible. This place is amazing because we can actually take the shuttle and save us $12 per day in hospital parking. I am able to cook homemade food per my son's request and keep a well balanced diet instead of surviving on fast food like before. This truly is more than a blessing for our family because we can be at peace while our son receives treatment and that is a very important part in this journey. Victor is more than happy and even though he is going through intensive chemotherapy for the second time within a year, he says he loves it here and is happy to be here. We can gladly say this place is more than a home away from home. Thank you ASCF and for all who contribute to make this possible for our family and many other families in need. You have no idea how grateful we are for this organization and we hope it continues for many more decades with the help of those who donate to make this possible.
A Shelter for Cancer Families was truly a blessing for my situation. I am very fortunate in the sense that my cancer has left me capable of taking care of myself. I don’t have the constant need for a caregiver to look after me and help me with my daily activities. Unfortunately, most of the housing available for cancer patients requires you to have a caregiver with you 24/7 in order to stay at their facilities. As I began going down the list of options on Joe’s List, my options were quickly reduced from many to very few.
I applied to the few organizations that would allow me to, but unfortunately no one had space and I was placed on waiting lists for those few groups. I would be driving nearly 1,600 miles to Houston and spending over two months away from home and I still didn’t have housing secured for my stay during treatment.
I managed to get a reduced cost hotel room through the American Cancer Society, but I only had a room on a weekly basis and had the possibility that I would have to change hotels each week. My treatments at the MD Anderson Proton Center were going to take 8 weeks, and I knew changing hotels was going to get tiring soon. They were also not able to offer the discounted rooms for the entirety of my treatments, leaving me on my own for the remaining few weeks of my schedule.
Fortunately, after two weeks of hotel life, I received a phone call from Melissa at ASCF letting me know that they had an opening and I could get into the apartment immediately. I cannot describe the amount of stress and anxiety that disappeared when I received that phone call. I was no longer burdened with having to pack up my stuff into a rental car to move every weekend. I could buy more than just a week’s worth of groceries at a time without worrying about throwing out everything in the refrigerator at the end of the week. I also had the security of a gated community with limited access to the apartments when I came back from my daily treatments. I would now be only a few minutes away from the Proton Center and no longer had to make the daily commute from Katy, Sugarland, or wherever I would end up before.
This organization takes steps to ensure the patients and their families staying in the ASCF apartments feel at home during their time in Houston. Any issues that came up with the apartment were quickly handled through Jennifer and the building management. The ASCF volunteers sacrifice their own time to help their guests celebrate the major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though I was by myself in the apartment, I never felt like I was on my own. I never took advantage of the Patient Navigators available to me during my stay, but I appreciated the knowledge that they were there and available if needed.
When I was first diagnosed with my cancer I was completely blindsided and overwhelmed. Knowing that there are organizations such as ASCF helping patients get through such an extremely difficult experience gives me an amazing amount of hope moving forward as a cancer survivor. As I stated before, ASCF was a blessing for me and deserve a great amount of support to continue providing aid to other survivors and their families.