The Caregiver Perspective
Stacy Fritz is both a daughter and a sister of two family members diagnosed with cancer. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2016. Less than 6 months later, in the fall of 2016, her dad had emergency triple bypass surgery. AND then, just as they began to find a new normal her only sibling Brad was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer last February 2018 at 46 years old. Below you can watch her testimony and it is transcribed below.
My name is Stacy Fritz. I am both a daughter and a sister of 2 family members diagnosed with cancer.
This picture was taken almost 1 year ago to the day.
I remember feeling burdened and deeply worried about my family at last year’s Believe Big Dinner. As odd it sounds though, I also had this overwhelming feeling that night, that I’d be standing here on this stage tonight.
I even told Ivelisse at the time this picture was taken….”This time next year, it will be my family standing on this stage sharing our message of hope and cure.”
As I’ve come to learn, God answers our prayers on HIS terms.
HIS answer to me after the 2018 Believe Big dinner….was both a YES and NOT YET.
The YES was to mean that only I would be standing on this stage tonight to share my deep and profound respect and love for Believe Big, and the NOT YET answer was for our prayers for complete cure.
Our background story-
This is US, summer of 2015. My gorgeous family of 12 in Hilton Head for our annual family vacation… Healthy, happy, connected,
What I didn’t know then was that everything would change shortly after that summer.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2016.
Less than 6 months later, in the fall of 2016, my dad had emergency triple bypass surgery.
AND then, just as we began find our new normal and return to life’s joy, including both of my parents recovering…
My only sibling, my brother Brad was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer last February 2018 at 46 years old.
In 18 months, my original squad including my mom, dad and younger brother would be faced with life changing illnesses.
How was I introduced to Believe Big?
My introduction to Believe Big was probably different than it was for all of you. I’m guessing you found your way to Believe Big after you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer.
My connection happened BEFORE my world turned upside down. I believe it was orchestrated by God and delivered in a field of sunflowers.
Let me explain…
This is me doing a little yoga in the sunflowers, 2014.
I’m in a huge field of sunflowers owned by my dear friend, Cindy Franzoni. We were just acquaintances back then, connected only by our sons’ friendship.
My son told me one day that his friend’s family, the Franzonis, plant a huge field of sunflowers every 2 years. His words…”Mom, it’s like a million sunflowers.”
I was intrigued.
After just one visit to this sunflower field, where these beautiful sunflower faces stretched further than I could see, I was in awe. Their sunflower heads were held high, pointed in the direction of the sun and glowed like a sea of happy faces. I thought to myself, they look like a huge group of smiling friends who are deeply connected.
I contacted Cindy, who again, didn’t really know me and I asked, “Can I just do a little yoga in your sunflower fields?” I wanted to be right in the middle of their magic.
The sunflowers lasted a short 3 weeks. I visited “my group of smiling friends” every day of those 3 weeks. A little yoga, a lot of pictures, but mostly just to sit in their beauty.
This field of sunflowers had a profound impact on me in 2014.
2 years later, in 2016…Cindy planted her sunflower field again. Scheduled to bloom in September.
I made another request of Cindy in 2016. I asked and she graciously said YES to hosting my company’s first fundraiser, Glow for Girl, in her field of sunflowers. We created the event to raise money and bring awareness to breast cancer survivors and the needs of their families impacted by their diagnosis.
Look who attended… Ivelisse Page and I were introduced here in the field of sunflowers by our 2 mutual beautiful friends.
After that event, Believe Big became such an important part of my life.
Believe Big connected our family to doctors and resources that I know would not have happened had I not met Ivelisse.
This organization has become both my community of support AND where God has chosen me to serve.
I was drawn to Believe Big the same way those beautiful sunflower faces are drawn to the sun.
Believe Big represents HOPE, FAITH and BEAUTY even when unexpected happens.
Trust me…the unexpected happens. Statistically speaking, almost 40% of us in this room will receive the diagnosis of cancer. That means the other 60% of us in the room will be impacted in some way by that same diagnosis.
Today, my family’s story is this…
My mom is a breast cancer survivor and thriving.
My brother, Brad, has navigated his year long journey with complementary medicine including mistletoe and ketogenic nutrition, with traditional clinical treatment AND with his deep profound faith.
To me, Brad is a remarkable example of Believing Big.
While God has said NOT YET to all of our prayers for Brad…
Our family waits confidently with hopeful anticipation for his complete cure.
As I continue to travel this journey with my family, I have gratefully accepted my tap on the shoulder from God to be a part of this incredible organization… I have joined the Believe Big team on their Board of Advisors to help patients and families face, fight and overcome cancer.
I am guided not only by God, but also when I think about it, from a few lessons I have learned from these enchanting sunflowers.
FACE and LEAN into the SUN/SON. I know that the best way to move through this obstacle is to lean in and face the sun, just like those awe-inspiring sunflowers in Cindy’s field. The lesson is really from the son spelled capital S-O-N. It is a wonderful way to connect to our purpose, our prayers and what HE wants from us.
Believe Big reminds me to lean into and face the S-O-N.
BELIEVE BIG. A sunflower grows from the stalk – the sunflower’s metaphoric neck. As one side of the sunflower stalk grows it leans toward the sun. As the sun shifts positions through day, the other side of the sunflower stalk shifts grows in the new direction of the sun.
The sunflower grows by sticking the stalk/her neck out again and again in the direction of the sun.
Ivelisse and her team…every day they give hope, every day they believe big AND every day they stick out their necks for their patients and their families to face, fight and overcome cancer.
Believe Big reminds me to GO AHEAD, BELIEVE BIG, stand tall in what you hope for…stick out your neck, even when someone you love may not believe big just yet.
STAY CENTERED, GROUNDED AND USE NATURE’S MEDICINE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Believe Big is not only sharing information about mistletoe therapy. They are giving patients and their families access to complementary tools to heal themselves, to stay grounded and to stay balanced during this unexpected journey.
Believe Big provides education and connection to tools and resources for us to tap into including leaning on the ones that our bodies already have like the breath, the healing effect of sleep, the power of good clean food and the miracle of prayer.
Their vision….to see cancer patients and their families discover their pathway to healing.
To me, Believe Big is also pollinating the world with the message of hope.
why should others be involved with believe big?
Believe Big runs this organization as if it is for just ONE patient. That’s how they make you feel. As if you were only ONE person needing support…and not just if you are the patient.
My mom and brother were the patients and yet, the loving kindness and support was delivered directly to me, as if I were just ONE ….the only daughter or the only sister of a cancer patient needing resources.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Believe Big began as ONE. God planted this seed when HE held Ivelisse’s hand thru her own journey with her diagnosis.
HE bestowed his blessings on her and she now pollenates and spreads the message of hope and healing.
Ivelisse’s INTENTION, her ATTENTION, her prayers and now, her Believe Big actions are just like the seeds planted in my friend Cindy’s sunflower field, small but have grown and flourished mightily under the Son.
The seeds Ivelisse planted thru her recovery were the beginning of something beautiful, something BIG for us to BELIEVE that now stretch further than we can ever imagine or see – thank God for all of us.
Like Ivelisse, all of us have the capacity to have this kind of impact, the capacity to inspire someone, the capacity to believe in something BIGGER than a cancer diagnosis, the capacity to plant even just ONE seed.
I believe all great things always start with ONE.
Won’t you be ONE?