Horizon Day Camp – Believe Mugs

On July 16th, Believe Big arrived in the art room at Horizon Day Camp. This camp is a full summer day camp for children ages 3-16 battling cancer. Recognizing the extraordinary financial demands that a child’s chronic illness can have on a family, Horizon Day Camps and year-round programs are always offered free of charge.
Believe Big staff and volunteers were met by smiling happy faces of campers who were very excited to paint a Believe Mug. The campers were even more excited to choose a mug of their very own to take home that had been painted for them by other Believe Mug painters in the community. What a blessing to see this circle of HOPE! It started with the generous donation from The Serini Foundation, then those of you in the community that painted a Believe Mug for the kids at the camp, and then the kids at the camp painting a mug for an adult with cancer. What a blessing!

Mark McElrath, who runs the camp shared, “Thank you for contributing the materials for our campers to enjoy such a fun day.”

If you would like to contribute to have patients paint Believe Mugs during their treatments or support groups, please donate using the link below.

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Thank You Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association (CCSA)

Mary, Jensen, and Jackie (from left to right) traveled to St. Charles, Missouri for the annual CCSA convention.

For the second year in a row, Believe Big was chosen as their charity of choice. The convention connected us with at least 30 new pottery studio partners nationwide that will now be offering Believe Mugs. Through their silent auction and raffles, the CCSA was able to raise $22,000 for Believe Big! Thanks to the CCSA, we are able to make a huge impact in the lives of those battling cancer. We are thankful and grateful for this partnership!

Additionally, one of our studio partners in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bisque It, was featured on their local news station delivering mugs to a nearby oncology center. Bisque It is holding an October event commemorating their 1st anniversary of participation in the Believe Mug program and will donate half of their event proceeds to Believe Big! Check out the great story below!


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Integrative Medicine Meeting

In September, Believe Big had the opportunity to travel to Stuttgart, Germany for the Integrated Medicine Meeting!

The Integrated Medicine Meeting was a gathering of over 200 various medical professionals hosted at the headquarters of Helixor, a producer of mistletoe. Ivelisse Page and Patty Buddemeyer met with experts in the fields of integrated medicine from all over the world and learned about new research and case studies in oncology. They toured the Helixor mistletoe extract production facility and learned how the plant is harvested and stored and how the extract is obtained from the plant. They also were able to tour the Helixor arboretum and learned about each specific species of mistletoe, the growth and maturation process, and what species treat specific cancers.

This wealth of information better equips us to serve our many patients. Ivelisse was also honored to share the Believe Big story with the delegates present and the response was overwhelming and supportive!,

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Stefanie O’Polka – Lung Cancer Overcomer!

Stefanie O’Polka

Lung Cancer Overcomer!

As a lifelong non-smoker with no family history of cancer, I was shocked and horrified to receive a lung cancer diagnosis in April of 2015. I had a serious case of pneumonia that thankfully hadn’t responded to oral antibiotics. My general practitioner sent me to the emergency room to be admitted, get IV antibiotics, and rest. I began to suspect something was wrong when an unusually large number of doctors and specialists traveled in and out of my ER room, all of them saying they were trying to “rule things out.” After several days in the hospital and many tests and procedures, I awoke from anesthesia with an oncologist by my bedside. It was confirmed: I had lung cancer.

I didn’t know specifics, but somewhere in my mind I remembered reading that lung cancer was one of the worst types of cancer. The actual lung cancer facts are staggering. It is the deadliest of all cancers, killing more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers COMBINED. The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with lung cancer is just 18%. Not great odds, but I am a fighter, and I was going to do whatever I could for me and my three amazing children.

I underwent conventional treatment including surgery removing the majority of my right lung and four months of weekly chemotherapy. I also began researching complementary therapies that could help boost me into that small number of lung cancer survivors. I found an acupuncturist, started taking supplements and juicing, opened myself up with spiritual practices like meditation and gratitude, and I was introduced to Believe Big. Believe Big’s beautiful stories of survival gave me hope that I, too, could overcome cancer, and their nutrition and mistletoe therapy services gave me practical ways to fight this disease.

As I write this, I can gratefully say that I have been cancer free for 3 ½ years! I continue my mistletoe injections and I strive to live a balanced lifestyle. Giving back has always been a part of my life, and I’m proud to say that this year I raised over $30,000 for the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. I am a monthly donor to Believe Big, I’ve enjoyed attending the last three inspirational fundraising dinners, I’ve hosted a fun Believe Mug painting in my home, and my niece now works for this incredible organization that helped me so much on my cancer journey.

Stefanie is pictured above with her niece and 3 children, Believing Big!

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Believe Big visits Horizon Day Camp

Thank you to our supporters for providing an amazing day at Horizon Day Camp for 90 pediatric cancer fighters and their counselors!

These spirited smiling campers, aged 3 to 18, each painted their own unique Believe Mug to be given to another pediatric cancer patient. They each then selected a Believe Mug to encourage them as they continue their fight! We enjoyed an impromptu dance party with the campers and many contagious smiles. The resilience and joy demonstrated by these young cancer warriors was so powerful!  THANK YOU FOR SPREADING HOPE, HELP & HEALING and BELIEVING BIG!

If you’re aware of a cancer treatment center, support group, or other oncology related facility that would like to learn more about Believe Mug donations for their patients, please contact mary@believebig.org. #faceitfightitovercomeitThanks for BELIEVING BIG!



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Believe Mugs at Horizon Day Camp

On Tuesday, Believe Big held a Believe Mug painting for 75 children fighting cancer who attend Horizon Day Camp at Maryvale Preparatory School! The campers range from ages 5 to 17 and were an inspiration to all as they painted a Believe Mug to be fired, glazed & given to another cancer patient! Each camper also took home a Believe Mug today as a reminder to keep BELIEVING BIG in their battle with cancer!

Learn more about hosting a Believe Mug gathering or locating a studio to paint at here >> www.believebig.org/believe-mugs

????#faceitfightitovercomeit #payitforward #believemugs


More info about Horizon Day Camp – www.horizondaycamp.org

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the pain and suffering they endure is unfathomable.  It also turns the entire family’s world upside down in ways never before imagined.

Horizon Day Camp is a full-summer day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, provided completely free of charge.

Providing memorable summers since 2006 for children ages 3 1/2–16, Sunrise Day Camps bring the simple pleasures of childhood back to children struggling with cancer, changing months of loneliness and isolation into summers filled with sunshine, laughter and happiness. And because Sunrise is a day camp, it does all this while allowing the children to continue their medical treatment and enjoy the comfort and safety of their own homes at night. There are currently seven  Day Camps  — three in New York (Long Island, Pearl River & Staten Island), three in Israel (Beit Yehoshuah, Be’er Sheva & Ramat Yochanan) and Horizon Day Camp in Baltimore, Maryland.  Sunrise Association Day Camps are affiliated with 30 renowned hospitals and medical centers. Sunrise Sundays and Fun-days offer children exciting activities and events when school is not in session; Sunrise on Wheels is a one-of-a-kind program that provides hours of Sunrise-fun to children undergoing treatment in pediatric oncology units of participating hospitals.

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Welcome Mary to Believe Big!

Welcome Mary to Believe Big!

Mary Kruft is our NEW part-time Believe Mug Coordinator!  We are so grateful to have her on our team to help expand our Believe Mugs program into more schools, businesses, places of worship, pottery stores, and hospitals.
Mary, like most of us, has been touched by cancer and knows the impact a Believe Mug can have on a patient or a loved one.  She is extremely enthusiastic and eager to expand our Believe Mugs program. Please feel free to reach out by emailing mary@believebig.org to say hello, congratulate her, and to set up a Believe Mug painting today!
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We’re hiring! Believe Mug Coordinator!

We’re Hiring! Believe Mug Coordinator!

We are looking for someone to help expand our Believe Mugs program into schools, businesses, places of worship, pottery stores, and hospitals. We are eager to bring on a new team member to develop and evolve ideas to bring together Believe Big mug goals, objectives, and patients’ needs.  We are growing and need someone that is extremely organized and can hit the ground running!
Click HERE for the Job Description.  If interested, please send your resume to: ipage@believebig.org.
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Grateful for Your Generosity


Thank you for coming alongside of us this year!

We are so grateful for the generosity of our friends, family, and advocates.  We wanted to thank all of you who helped to contribute to our end of year campaign.  In total, we were able to raise $75,000 of our $150,000 goal.  Even though we didn’t reach our goal, we know that God in His time will raise the remaining funds needed for the trial to begin and to meet the needs of the patients we serve.  THANK YOU to so many of you that have supported us with your time, by sharing our mission, or through prayer.  We have been able to achieve so much this year and it’s only because you helped to make it possible.

Because of you we were able to give nearly $35,000 in Wellness Grants to help patients afford Mistletoe therapy and nutrition therapy, which are not covered by typical health insurance policies.

With the help of dozens of schools, pottery stores, volunteers, and church groups we have expanded our Believe Mugs program and distributed nearly 1100+ mugs all over the country to patients in need of spiritual and emotional support.

This past year we were able to provide materials for children at The Johns Hopkins pediatric oncology unit to paint Believe Mugs during their treatments.

Our patient advocates were also able to connect and provide patients from all over the country free resources, direction, and hope. Additionally, we were able to host a support group that offered much needed respite to caregivers of loved ones with cancer. It provided a safe place to be listened to and encouraged all while participating in a variety of experiences that supported them in a more practical way.

All of this may leave you wondering, “What’s the update on the Mistletoe Clinical Trial?!”  On December 24, 2015 we heard from the FDA that they approved the start of the trial.  In September of 2016, The Johns Hopkins Internal Review Board approved the trial commencement.  We are now just waiting on the finalization of the needed documents for the international shipment of the mistletoe extract that is produced by a German company, Helixor. The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Helixor are working tirelessly to iron out the final details so that patients can be enrolled and start as soon as possible!

Again, We cannot express our gratitude and appreciation of the blessing of each member of the Believe Big community! We eagerly anticipate and are excited for what is in store for 2017!


Ivelisse & The Believe Big Team

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