Twist Out Cancer and PiperWai- A Natural Partnership

Sarah Ribner and Jess Edelstein, the dynamic and tenacious duo behind Piperwai natural deodorant, are driven by their desire to give back and make an impact. As recent winners of ABC’s highly acclaimed show, Shark Tank, they have chosen to use their platform to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits that are making a difference in the community.  Their recent partnership with Twist Out Cancer is a natural fit as the two groups are making waves in their respective communities.

Jess and Sarah have known each other since childhood. They had a thriving lemonade stand when they were little girls, and they always dreamed of one day working together as adults. Their friendship withstood the test of time, as the two went off to college in different cities.

After graduation, Sarah took a high stress job on Wall Street.  She found herself feeling sluggish and made a conscious decision to prioritize her health. Back when she was 15, she saw how her body and mind transformed by cutting out soda and heavy sugar. Now in her twenties, she decided to change her diet, and make the conscious decision to seek out natural products for her skin and makeup. Sarah not only started to feel better, but she found that she was able to manage her stress by prioritizing self care.

Jess on the other hand, had a problem that she needed to fix. As a heavy sweater with sensitive skin, she found herself struggling to find a natural deodorant that actually worked. She started to read about all natural recipes online and decided to try it herself. She noticed fairly quickly that there was a real void in the marketplace for products that actually work. Jess created a recipe that she believed in and convinced her best friend Sarah to bring it on a relief trip  to Central and South America. Sarah was so impressed by the product’s effectiveness that she shared it with the volunteers. When Sarah returned home she decided to partner with Jess to bring this recipe to the masses.

In 2012, PiperWai was born. Sarah and Jess worked out of Jess’s kitchen to perfect the recipe. Eventually they moved to a commercial kitchen and started to sell their product locally. On a whim the ladies auditioned and eventually won Shark Tank which has transformed the company overnight.

Sarah and Jess’s passion is contagious. Not only are their customers loyal but they have taken to social media using the hashtag #piperwai,  Customers are sharing their testimonials and how their product is changing their lives. The PiperWai social media accounts promote motivating and inspiring photos that align with the mission.

Sarah and Jess firmly believe that while you can’t live in a bubble, there are healthy choices that can be made to lower your risk of illnesses and promote better well being.

 Since Shark Tank, PiperWai is committed to partnering with a charity partner every quarter. They do not just randomly offer discounts on their product, instead they choose to discount goods for the benefit of non-profits. As their charitable giving started to grow, cancer survivors and their loved ones started to notice, and have since become repeat customers.

Cancer survivors are often concerned about what they should or shouldn’t put into and on their bodies before, during and after treatment. The armpit contains many lymph nodes, and there is often a concern about putting toxic chemicals close to areas that may or may not impacted by disease. One of Piperwai’s customers found a tumor in his armpit because he was using the product which currently does not have an applicator. By design the product encourages you to touch yourself and get in touch with your body. The male customer was thankful that he found the tumor when he did.

Twist Out Cancer is honored to be the chosen charity partner throughout the month of October. Jess and Sarah were inspired by Jenna’s story and the concept of how Twist is impacting the cancer community.

During the month of October, PiperWai is donating 10% of all proceeds to Twist Out Cancer. To participate, use the code TOC10 at the checkout.

On November 29th, in honor of Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, Twist Out Cancer and PiperWai will host the first annual Sock Hop at  WeWork with proceeds going to TOC. For more information on the event please check the website.


Brushes with Cancer Featured Artist: Bowen Kline

Bowen Kline knows how to capture the beauty that is buried within hardship.

Ever since I met Bowen this past October I knew he would be the perfect fit for Brushes with Cancer. Bowen dives into his work heart first. He immerses himself completely in the experience and creates with a raw honesty that is hard to describe.

Bio

Bowen Kline is a Southfield native with a national reputation as one of the country’s finest artists. He is self-taught, and his works are held in private collections nationwide, and in Michigan in Artspace II in Birmingham, in Grand Rapids and Oak Park. Today, Kline makes his home in Romeo and is especially known for his expressive portraits and nudes.

Kline’s extraordinary works both reveal his own heart and speak to and of different cultures and identities. His paintings show isolation and loneliness, but also hope and wonder. From his picture showing a man, suitcases in hand, headed to a stark house, to his poignant “Pleading Woman,” filled with deep, heavy strokes that reveal an anguish too mournful for words, Kline creates art that is fresh, daring, unforgettable. “I’ve spent the better part of my life in a small room with a lamp with no shade, trying to figure out who I am,” he said. “I’ve never been called the ‘great communicator.’ My voice is heard through my paintings.  My work is an extension of myself, what I see and experience.

 

To meet Bowen- check out Brushes with Cancer on April 10, 2014. Tickets are now on sale.

http://www.bowenkline.com/

 

Brushes with Cancer 2014- Pairing Artists with Those Touched by Cancer to Create for a Cause

This past April,  we launched a brand new initiative entitled “Brushes With Cancer- Pairing Artists with Survivors to Create for a Cause.” The event celebrates survivorship and hope through art, music and storytelling. Held at Chicago’s renown Floating World Gallery, the event successfully matched 18 artists with 18 survivors, and attracted over 400 attendees. In 2014 our hope is to expand the program to include 30 artists who will be matched those who have been touched by cancer. Please note that survivors, caregivers and loved ones are encouraged to participate.  We believe that you do not need to be a survivor to be impacted by this growing epidemic.

Over the next few months, those touched by cancer will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and at the benefit this April. Check out last year’s recap video to learn more about the program.

 

Call For Submissions

Twist Out Cancer is calling upon anyone touched by cancer to share their twist on cancer between now and February 1, 2014.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here

 
Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Brushes with Cancer which will take place in Chicago this April.  Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

How Do I Get Involved:
If you are interested in joining the Brushes with Cancer Host Committee or are interested in supporting the event please contact Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

There will be 4 host committee meetings between January and April. Please note that you do not need to be in Chicago to participate.

 

From Leading to Following

On Sunday November 3, I had the pleasure of returning to Montreal, Canada to run a Twist Out Cancer workshop at Le Mood, the festival of unexpected Jewish learning, arts and culture.  In partnership with Dan Hadad, Twist Out Cancer Board Chair and ROI alum, the Schusterman Foundation afforded us with the unique opportunity to present our work in a city that we used to call home nearly a decade ago.

From 2003-2005, I served as the Director of Programs at Hillel Montreal after I completed my studies at McGill University.  During my tenure, I worked with Dan who at the time was the President of Concordia’s Hillel and subsequently the Director of Programming at Centre Hillel.  Dan was vibrant, argumentative, and whip smart. His relentless desire and commitment to educate and advocate for Israel amongst Jews and non-Jews alike was particularly daunting during the wake of the second intifada. On and off campus, tensions were high.  Dan used this as an opportunity to educate, advocate and transform the community into spirited cheerleaders for the state of Israel. I was initially drawn to Dan because he was a deep thinker, provocative and curious. Within weeks of working with him on various campus initiatives, I grew to love Dan because of the capacity of his heart and his deep desire to give.
Dan not only was my colleague but he quickly became my best friend.

In 2005, when I decided to pursue a masters degree at Columbia University in New York, Dan and I still managed to see each other every few weeks in Montreal on New York.  He was always a top priority.

Upon completing my studies in New York, I spent one last summer in Montreal with Dan before heading home to Chicago to begin employment at the Anti-Defamation League, where I have worked for the last six years.  As I embarked on a new chapter back home in Chicago, Dan moved to Toronto and took a position as the Associate Director of Special Projects at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Although there was an undeniable distance between us physically, we were still inextricably connected both professionally and personally. In our respective communities in Chicago and Toronto, we were working as  full time advocates for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Our lives in many ways continued to be synchronized.

On December 20, 2010 the path that Dan and I were on came to a significant crossroads. At the age of 29, I was told that I had cancer. I was forced to grapple with a life threatening illness, forced to stop making plans, and forced to live in the here and now. As I retreated into the depths of my illness, down a path that was painful and frightening, I quickly realized that  I was not alone.

Dan decided to follow me- and he was relentless. He called, texted, imed, and skyped regularly. He just kept showing up.He may not have known the perfect thing to say or do, but he just kept trying.  His capacity to love and give was overwhelming.

When I entered remission and finished treatment Dan continued to follow me. He followed me through the creation of Twist Out Cancer, he followed me to Israel where I was recently married and he followed me to Montreal to attend the Le Mood Festival. It was here, back home, in Montreal that Dan felt safe enough to articulate perhaps for the first time, what it was like for him to follow and not lead.

As I stood up in front of the audience and shared my story and my twist on cancer, Dan stepped up to the mic to share his. For the first time, I heard what it was like for him to support and navigate his best friend through the overwhelming darkness, the unexpected twists and turns, and the eventual re-entry back into the light.

As I listened to him articulate how deeply he was impacted by my illness, it became suddenly clear, that it was not I that was leading, it was Dan that I was following.

Sometimes it takes coming back home to realize how far you have come.  Thank you to the Schusterman Foundation and to Le Mood for the opportunity to listen, grow, learn, and follow.

http://www.roicommunity.org/blog/leading-following

Brushes With Cancer- Captured And Preserved For Years To Come

Brushes With Cancer is a night exceeded all hopes and expectations. It was a night that celebrated storytelling and creativity- and a night that was centered around hope.

We are so grateful to all that participated.

Below is our program book that provides a snapshot into the survivors’ journeys and highlights the artists talent and creativity. You can also find the night captured  by the talented photographer Liesl Diesel.  In the next few days we will be releasing our video from the night- so stay tuned!

Thank you for letting us in to your worlds.

Your Stories Preserved: Brushes Program 

 

 

The Night Captured

Our Voice, Our Narrative, Our Twists on Cancer

Over the last two years I have spent a great deal of time connecting with other cancer survivors to learn about their unique experiences in managing their illness. Some of of these survivors describe feelings of isolation, loneliness, ostracism and misunderstanding, whereas others describe unprecedented love and support.  Some survivors describe their experiences as colored by profound loss and repeated victimization where as others describe it as a journey filled with countless blessings.

What is clear, is that there is not one cancer narrative- not one coping strategy- nor one particular model patient experience we can look to to mimic or follow.  Our experiences- our narratives-our reflections on what was and what is-is so deeply personal.  And perhaps our experiences and the way we choose to describe them-are influenced by where we stand. Are we recently diagnosed- currently in treatment- recently relapsed or post treatment?   The options are endless and the words we choose  to describe our stories, can quickly change depending on where we are at.

In my case, with little to no statistics or research to explain my diagnosis and treatment regimen, I realized early on that I felt empowered by writing my own story. Writing became my primary coping mechanism for how to navigate an experience that was traumatic, chaotic, yet undeniably mine. As I felt increasingly lonely and isolated I was deeply concerned that I would eventually lose my own voice. There were times when I appeared silent, but I was really screaming. And there were times when I was screaming yet struggling to speak.

In a failed attempt to preserve the voice I once knew and once loved, I ended up by accident discovering a more authentic self.  This self was braver, more courageous, and more giving. This self was determined to raise awareness, educate and find an outlet for my creativity.

The voice that I was so desperately clinging to was no longer the voice that I needed.

And today, I have recognized that the voice I had during treatment- is no longer relevant for my here and now.

Our voices- our narratives- our twists on cancer are ever- changing.

Perhaps through writing, through art, through music, our voices then and now can and will always be preserved.

 

On April 17, 2012, Twist Out Cancer will launch “Brushes With Cancer: Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create For a Cause.” This event will celebrate survivorship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by 
Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer
Jonny Immerman, Founder of Immerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker
Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa

Music Provided by Palter Ego
Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

 

Twist Out Cancer Presents: Brushes With Cancer- Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create for a Cause

Brushes With Cancer is an evening that celebrates survivor-ship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by


Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer


Jonny Imerman, Founder of Imerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker


Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa


Music Provided by Palter Ego

Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

How Do I Get Involved:
If you are interested in joining the Twist With An Artist Host Committee or are interested in donating goods/services please contact Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

There will be 4 host committee meetings between January and April. Please note that you do not need to be in Chicago to participate.

 

UIUC Sigma Delta Tau Twists Out Cancer

On Saturday, October 20th, Dr. David Shersher and I headed down to the University of Illinois Champagne Urbana to work with 120 Sigma Delta Tau Sorority Sisters on Twist Out Cancer.  The event was spearheaded by Karen Klass, SDT’s President who attended the TOC program at Camp Chi.

Here is a poignant reflection from one of the participants:

 

Saturday, the women of Sigma Delta Tau participated in a life changing sisterhood event that opened our eyes to the devastating challenges people face. We were lucky enough to have the 31-year-old lymphoma survivor, Jenna Benn, visit our sorority and guide us through a meaningful cancer awareness workshop. Benn, the founder of Twist Out Cancer, has developed a support community “with a twist.” Her organization utilizes social media to help survivors and their loved ones combat the feelings of pain, isolation, and helplessness that often accompany cancer diagnoses. Twist Out Cancer provides a forum for people to share thoughts, experiences, pictures, stories, videos, etc., that spread encouragement and happiness to one another. When Benn was first diagnosed, she made a video of herself “twisting out cancer” to Chubby Checker’s famous hit “The Twist,” and posted it on her blog. Within days, people from all over the world responded to her video by posting videos of them “twisting out cancer” too. The “twist” soon became a huge collection of videos, posts, songs, pictures, etc., that cancer survivors shared in order to encourage others in their fight against this agonizing disease.

After Benn shared her touching story, the ladies of Sigma Delta Tau were eager to help support her cause. Benn showed us a video of a cancer survivor named Charlene, who asked people to post videos of themselves experiencing life in someone else’s shoes. We split into groups and ventured off on campus to see how we too could step out of our comfort zones. At the end of the event, we all came together to share our videos and discuss what we learned from the experience. In our debriefing circle, we talked about how this experienced opened our eyes to the challenges people face and to the importance of giving back. We talked about how silly it is to focus on trivial matters when there is a whole world of need outside our door. We learned that there is so much we can do to make a difference in someone else’s life, and it is crucial that we take action to make a change. Our sisterhood event with Twist Out Cancer taught us that, although we cannot stop cancer from attacking our loved ones, we do have the power to control how we fight and heal. We posted our videos and pictures on the Twist Out Cancer webpage in hopes of spreading joy and laughter to cancer survivors all around the world. We are all so grateful for this incredible experience.

My Speech at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Annual Meeting

It is an honor and privilege to be here tonight- to share my story with you- and to convey to you the overwhelming gratitude I have for your tireless efforts.

On December 20, 2010, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Grey Zone Lymphoma that affects less than 300 people in the United States.  Because this disease is a relatively new diagnosis characterized by features of both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had virtually no statistics and little research about my disease. I decided that instead of being crippled by the lack of information- it was time to write my own story.

The news of my cancer diagnosis was both jarring and devastating. While it explained the months of flu like symptoms, night sweats and weight loss, I was an otherwise healthy young adult -who had always been proactive about my health.  It took a while for me to fully process the severity of my situation.

The night that I was diagnosed, I made a pat with myself that I was going to fight this disease with the same tenacity with which I wanted to live.

With the help of Northwestern’s Oncofertility Consortium, I took steps to help preserve my chances of having biological children before I started treatment and started to believe that there could be life after cancer, and that there was tremendous hope amidst the trauma.

I started an intensive chemotherapy regimen called R-Epoch on January 22nd which included a 5-6 day in-patient hospitalization where I would receive 120 hours of continuous chemotherapy every 21 days.

On May 10th, 2011-after multiple surgeries, scans,bood transfusions, and over 720 hours of intensive chemotherapy, I completed my 6th and final round of treatment.

As I headed toward the finish line- I was tested for one last time. I had contracted what could have been a fatal infection called gram negative rods that entered into my urine and my blood stream compromising my health to the extent where I was told minutes mattered. Fighting against the clock, and fighting for my life, the months of mental and physical training were drawn upon and leveraged. After spending another 4 days in the hospital, and two weeks in recovery, I started to write a new chapter.

When I finished treatment, and ended the routine of intensive checkups and surveillance-I found myself disoriented and confused about how to re-enter the world. Desperate to connect with the body that I felt increasingly disconnected from- I was determined to find an outlet that could help me strengthen and heal in the days to come.  Running became my refuge- it was my new drug. Running not only allowed me to escape from my overwhelming fears- but it allowed me to push myself in a way that reminded me that I was alive.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, and determined to pay it forward, I decided to sign up for the ½ marathon through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I felt a particular affinity and attachment to you because you were responsible for discovering the drug Rituxan which was a key component to the chemotherapy regimen- that saved my life.

Team in training became my second family. My coaches and teammates quickly replaced my beloved medical team.  You were my team of cheerleaders- working on overdrive to bring me to yet another finish line- a finish line that would eventually lead me to my next chapter.

In less than 3 months I ran hundreds of miles, and raised over $19.000 for LLS. Since then- I have joined your advocacy committee, served as your honored hero, and premiered on our city’s buses and trains- to help spread the important work that you do.

I stand here tonight- overwhelmed with gratitude. I am grateful for your fever pitch screams and motivational speeches on Saturday mornings. I am grateful that you believed that my body and mind could handle the journey to the next finish line. And I am grateful for your commitment, research, and advocacy to rid the world of blood cancer.

I am not the hero- I am merely the fortunate recipient of your hard work.

And so tonight- I honor you. I am surrounded by a room full of heroes. And without you- I would not be here.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.