MJ Smith, Director of Affiliate Foundations, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
Recently we were approached by an attorney who served clients with a bold philanthropic vision. The More Moments More Memories fund was the idea of Christi Shaw and Shelley Shaw, sisters who grew up in Clayton County. Their mission, to support individuals’ travel to cancer clinical trials, is inspired by both their late mother, Karen, and their other sister, Sherry, who has experienced the significant hardships of cancer. Christi and Shelley deeply understand, personally and professionally, the ongoing needs of cancer patients and the sad reality that those with financial means are better able to access quality solutions.
Karen Shaw, died of breast cancer in 1996. At the time, the sisters, growing up in Clayton County, Iowa, were told there was nothing more anyone could do to save their mother’s life. She suffered through chemotherapy, radiation, and bravely fought to stay alive. What the sisters did not know was that there were clinical trials available at the time in other parts of the country. If they had known, and their mother had been given the option to take advantage of those trials, she might have lived to see her youngest daughter graduate from college on Mothers’ Day and attend the funerals of her parents, who instead had to endure the loss of their child.
Sadly, cancer touched these three sisters’ lives again when Sherry was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Currently, as a high-risk patient, she is running out of options and must travel many states away to gain access to new solutions to save her life.
Fortunately, her sisters were able to put their careers on hold to support Sherry through a clinical trial and other innovative treatments.
Christi was President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in the U.S. and Shelley was Senior Director – Global Marketing at Baxalta. As pharmaceutical industry executives, they had both the institutional knowledge and experience to become effective patient caregivers and advocates for their sister. As they navigated through the healthcare system, it became clear to them that most families in similar situations do not have their unique experience or ability.
The Shaw sisters are passionate about their belief that lack of financial resources or lack of awareness about potential solutions should never stand in the way of creating More Moments and More Memories for families.
We were inspired by these sisters and their dedication to helping others in similar situations. Donors and their passions come in many forms, and as community foundation advisors, we are lucky to get to help guide them on their path to making a difference through philanthropy.